It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of social marketing. But before I spawn a bunch of flame mails from those who don’t know me or my methods, let me be clear that I’m not about adding spam to the social networks by any means.
My goal is never to offend or upset users on any social network, that would simply be counter-productive and a useless waste of time for me or any marketer.
I’m trying to make sales with my marketing efforts, so what I really want to do is develop customer relationships and social networks are a fantastic place for doing this.
Which brings me to this often overlooked social marketing method that I wanted to talk about today.
I was talking with a client of my web services business the other day and the conversation moved over to how new customer acquisition was way down for her lately with the weak economy. Repeat customers are still coming in, but there’s been a definite drop in search traffic and new customers even though her search rankings have remained steady and even increased for a few keywords. The simple conclusion is there’s just less people searching for the luxury items she sells.
So, she needs to go out and find new customers for herself but has to struggle with that because income is down so she doesn’t have much of a budget for marketing.
It’s the catch-22 a lot of small businesses are facing right now. Revenue is down so they need more customers, but with revenue down they can’t afford to reach out to those potential new customers via traditional means.
I asked what her social media strategy was and she looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights.
She had the same idea that a lot of business owners hold, that social networks are full of kids discussing Gym class and bored office workers sharing comic strips and pictures of their cats.
While there are folks discussing and doing those things on social communities, there’s also people–millions of them–from all walks of life and they’re sharing or discussing every possible topic you can imagine.
Here’s what I told her, and this can be applied to almost any kind of business so think about it and see how you might be able to adopt it for your business or web site going forward.
Lets say you’ve got a product for Puppy Training. Maybe a video series. There’s a bunch of those and they’re popular with new dog owners having trouble with unruly pups.
A really easy and simple way to find people who need your product (and that’s who you should be looking for) would be to go to http://search.twitter.com and search for terms like “bad puppy” to see who’s tweeting about their puppy training woes.
You’ll find lots! Now it’s just a matter of making contact and being genuine and helpful. This is vital, you can’t (and shouldn’t) just message them with a sales pitch. How would you like it if some stranger on the bus started screaming sales pitches in your ear? That’s exactly the impression you don’t want to make, ever.
I just searched and found a tweet from someone saying their puppy chewed through their laptop power cable and they can’t stop it from chewing stuff.
There’s an opportunity to make a connection with a direct message in Twitter and say something like, “That stinks, it can be so hard to break puppies of the chewing phase. I made a video with tips to help do this if you’re interested you can watch it at…” and give your link. What would be best here is if you had some free tips videos or clips of your training series available on the page so when you send people there they can watch them right away and will feel helped.
You’d be amazed how much more responsive a potential customer will be when they feel you’ve already benefited them before asking for a sale. If you freely help someone with tips to stop puppies from chewing the furniture don’t you think they’ll look to you for help on house-training the puppy too? Behavior training? Teaching it tricks?
Now, at this point my friend said, “but I don’t have time to sit and watch Twitter all day?”. So I had to explain RSS to her, for you here’s the short version:
After you run the search in Twitter you will find a link on the results page titled “Feed for this query” that you can put into Google Reader or Bloglines or whatever RSS feed reader you use and have these tweets come to you when they’re made rather than you having to keep going out looking for them.
Pretty cool, huh?
And don’t just setup one feed from one search, pick a few good phrases that people needing help with puppy training might use and setup feeds for them all. Even really longtail phrases, heck those are the best. They may only get used once or twice a day, or even per week, but they’ll be highly targeted and if you’ve got a lot of them that will add up to lots of potential new customers for you.
Okay, lets take this further!
Twitter is great but it isn’t the only active community in town. Check out Friendfeed too.
Use the advanced search on Friendfeed, put your phrase in quotations and be sure you select “everyone” for where to pull results from.
I just checked and guess what? The very first result I found is another person with a puppy chewing problem. Hmmm…..
And guess what else? You’ll see the little RSS feed available icon in your browser’s address bar light up on the results page because Friendfeed lets you make a feed from your search query too. So once again you can just create these search feeds and put them in your feed reader to let the potential connections and customers come to you.