12 Online Ninja Marketing Tools for 12/12/12

Hope you have plans to celebrate the monumental day, 12-12-12.  Never again in my lifetime (I’m not planning on living to be 147 years old) will we see the same day/month/year.  So let’s celebrate!  I’m celebrating by releasing this blog at 12:12, 12-12-12.

Okay so it’s not that big a deal, compared to the world ending in another 9 days.  But for those of you that aren’t Mayan and plan on being around in 2013, here are 12 must have Ninja Marketing tools  for your online marketing plan.

1.  Website – To say this is a given is an understatement.  Unless your business is the only one in your industry and customers/clients are begging you for your services/products, then you must have a web site.  Even people that encounter your marketing efforts like printed brochures or meet you while networking will go check out your website as due diligence before making a decision whether or not to use your services.  Your website should reflect your business appearance.  If your website looks cheap and unprofessional, your business value will be diminished.

2. Blog – The cornerstone of every online marketing plan should be your blog.  If your website is the anchor, your blog is continuing education for your customers/clients.  When asked, most small business owners would say that customer acquisition is one of their main goals.  They think of that process as selling, advertising or marketing their product or service but the real function is education.  Educating your customers why your business is different from your competition.  Through your blog, you are providing your customers with valuable information that enhances your position as the expert in the industry.

3. Social Media Presence – With the average time spent on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest topping the 400 minute per month range, doesn’t it make sense to be where your customers are.  Do you need to be on every social media site?  Maybe, if your clients are there.  But more importantly, pick the one where the majority are and start building relationships.  Engage, interact and enjoy.

4. Google + – I can hear you now saying, “Didn’t you just say to pick one social media site?  Now your saying use Google +.  What Gives?”  True, I did say pick one and start building relationships.  G+ isn’t it.  But G+ IS about search engine optimization (SEO) and getting more visibility for your blog and website.  If Google owns the lion’s share of search and they have a social media network, doesn’t it stand to reason that they will use popular content from G+ as a ranking factor?

5.  Google + Local – Formerly called Google Places, the map listing in Google is a prominent fixture on page 1 of most local search terms.  If your business isn’t there, you are missing a huge opportunity to be seen.  Traditional SEO methods don’t work on the Google + Local page, but there are some Ninja Marketing tricks to improve your ranking.

6. Email List – Believe it or not, email is not dead.  Despite the tremendous amounts of unsolicited messages, email still is an effective method of communication.  Building an email list provides another avenue to touch your customers.  But the same rules apply with email as with social media, provide more value and less selling.   Ask yourself this question – Would the recipient say “Thanks for the great info” after reading your email?

7. Editorial Calendar – Perhaps the biggest drawback to blogging and social media is time.  The process is time consuming.  And that’s true if you are winging it.  If you sit down to write or post and don’t have a clue what you are going to say, you’ll find you’ve wasted an hour and nothing has happened.  The answer is an editorial calendar.  Plan your content the same way you schedule your monthly activities.  That way you know what you need to say and the process is quick and painless.

8. Google Alerts – Hand in hand with the editorial calendar are the next couple of tools.  Google Alerts is an excellent source of timely material collected from blogs and news sites across the web.  Google Alerts email daily or weekly a list of articles based on a specified keywords.  The alerts can be shared to your social media sites in whole or spin them with your take on why this information is important to your clients/customers

9.  Google Reader – Another tremendous source of material are blogs from thought leaders in your industry.  Google Reader aggregates all your blog subscriptions into one place making it easy to peruse and select only the articles that are pertinent.

10. Nutshell Mail – This emailed report is another aggregator of information, this time from your social media accounts.  Activity such as mentions, likes, updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are sent to your inbox.  This makes it easy to monitor without having to go to each site.

11. Hootsuite – One of my favorite tools is Hootsuite.  All my social media accounts are on one screen.  Hootsuite gathers updates from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + into one screen monitored in real time.  There are apps for Google Chrome and Firefox that make sharing of articles easy across all your social media channels in one step.  And with their scheduling feature, if you read 4 articles today that you want to share, you can space them out over the several days.

12. Feedburner – The ultimate goal of your blog should be capturing subscribers that want to receive your blog every time you post.  With Feedburner, individuals can do just that.  They can subscribe either by RSS feeds or by email.  Feedburner manages the subscriptions and delivers the content automatically.

There you have it.  12 Ninja Marketing Tools to make 2013 a banner year – assuming the Mayans were wrong.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Ninja Marketing Tips – Finding A Social Media Time Turner

I have scoured the Internet, unsuccessfully, trying to find a Hermione Granger Time Turner from Harry Potter.  Apparently they were all destroyed in 1996 in the battle at the Ministry of Magic.  Oh well it sure would’ve been helpful.

The challenge for business owners today is finding time to manage their online marketing efforts & social networks.  A business owner could easily spend 8 hours  a day just doing social media.  But unfortunately most owners wear many hats and marketing is only one of them.  Customer service and the day-to-day operations do take priority.

Here are five time-saving ninja marketing tips to manager your social networks.

  1. Schedule 30 minutes first thing in the morning and 30 minutes right after lunch or in the late afternoon to review your social networks.  Interact with all comments made to your posts and comment or retweet posts made by friends and followers.
  2. Use an aggregator to monitor your social networks.  Programs such as Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are 2 such services that will pull the feeds from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn into one site for monitoring,  commenting and sharing.
  3. Schedule your updates.  One great feature of both Tweetdeck and Hoot Suite is the ability to schedule your tweets or Facebook updates in advance.  Once a week you can plan your week’s updates, and schedule them for the day, time and even the specific site you want them posted to.
  4. Install the Hoot Suite plug-in for Firefox.  If you use Firefox as your browser, Hoot Suite offers a plug-in that makes it easy to share articles and blog posts to Facebook,  Twitter and LinkedIn and even schedule them to post at a more desirable time.
  5. Combine your Facebook and Twitter feeds into Google +.  Even though the aggregator programs have not yet incorporated Google + into their platform, there are G+ apps already that will add your Twitter and Facebook feed so it can be monitored with your G+.

Do you have any other time saving tips?  Feel free to share them.

Are you new to Google + or curious about how to get started?  Download my free Guide to Google + at www.800bizninjamarketing.com. Gary Wagnon is the CMN (Chief Marketing Ninja) at 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using an integrated approach to online marketing (combining web site design, search engine optimization, social media and action driven content), 800biz specializes in helping businesses stand out above the competition and drive more traffic to their door.

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10 Surefire Tips to Make Your Competition Smile

How would you like to be on your competitor’s Christmas card list? Well if you do these really well you might even get a gift basket from them.

So here is a list of 10 things that will make your competition not only smile but be genuinely happy you’re out there.

1. Not having a web site – Let’s face it, if you don’t have a website, no one’s going to find you, so you’re not much threat to the competition. Since 75% of all purchase decisions start online, your competitor will love you for not being there.

2. Not claiming your Google places page – An unclaimed Google places page or maps page is like having a Yellow Pages with no phone number or address. But the big difference is, you’re leaving the details open for anyone else to edit. And with the new Google layout showing the listings on the map so prominently, your competition will probably be sending you birthday cards and thank you notes for all the customers you’re missing.

3. Having a “Me To” website – You have a website like everyone else with a couple pages that give a basic outline of what you do. After all, everyone knows what your business does, right? But you competitor’s site explains in great detail what they do. A prospect visits your site and doesn’t see what they’re looking for, but they find it on your competitors site, you make your competition happy once more.

4. It’s all about me – Your website extols the virtues of how great your business is. Your fantastic customer service, your low prices, your quality product, blah, blah, blah. Your competitor, on the other hand, has figured out it’s not about them; it’s about the prospect. The prospect does not care how wonderful your service is, how great your product is or anything else about you. They only care about whether you can either fix their problem or remedy their pain. Whoever does this best, wins.

5. Web site has no call to action – You go to all the effort to drive traffic to your website only to educate your prospect, then watch them go to your competitor and purchase. Businesses get so concerned about not being pushy that they don’t even create any call the action on their website. Your competitor’s site not only educates the prospect, but makes it easy for them to act, whether via online order or phone call.

6. I don’t do social media – Of the 251 million people in the US on the Internet, 203 million of them are on Facebook. What are the chances some of them are your prospects? Your competitor, on the other hand, is out there building relationships with not only your prospects, but probably even your customers.

7. I have a high school/college kid doing my social media – While it’s true that teenagers are all over Facebook, and can post photos, tag people, like, share, and do all the other things that you don’t understand, social media for business it is COMPLETELY different. You wouldn’t even consider hiring an advertising or marketing person based on the fact that they sold their Xbox on Craig’s list so they could buy the new PS3? Your competitor hired a professional to create a social media plan that they religiously follow.

8. Having an incomplete social media profile – Have you ever noticed at a seminar or tradeshow they give you nametags? Is that just because they had money left over in the budget? No. It’s so you can network and build relationships with the people that are there. So having an incomplete profile on social media sites is like not only having no name tag but wearing a paper bag over your head. There’s not going to be a lot of interaction and you’re certainly not going to build any relationships.

9. Social media is a great selling opportunity – After all, you have a captive audience of Likers/Followers/Connections, why not fire away with your sales message? You’re probably one of those that go to a family reunion, pass out business cards and make your sales pitch to everyone there. Your competitor is giving valuable information, tips and helpful hints to her Likers/Followers/Connections. Her connections are growing and you wonder why yours are.

10. Social media takes too much time besides I don’t care who had Cheerios for breakfast. – Who has time to wade through the dribble on Facebook or Twitter? You have a business to run, marketing to do, and customers to keep happy. Meanwhile, your competitor has discovered a set of tools that let him/her not only schedule and manage their social media, but also monitor what’s being said about them online. They are developing relationships and handling customer service issues in real time before they become a problem.

Do a couple of these things and you stay on your competitors Christmas card list. Do several of them and there’s a chance you will get invited to the Christmas party…as an employee.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are? Or better still who do your clients, customers or prospects think you are? In our interconnected world your reputation, your profile and what your customers are saying are only a few clicks away. So are you moderating what people are saying about you?

When would you call to set up an appointment with someone you just met, what do you think their first order of business is going to be? They’re going Google you, Facebook you, look you up a Linkedin, look for you on YouTube. Maybe they search Yelp, Manta, Merchant Circle or any of a dozen other local business review sites. Do you know what they’ll find? If not you should.

To be safe, be proactive. It starts with completing your profile online. A Google profile, a Linkedin profile, even a Facebook account. Next, as business people, we need to guard our profiles with extreme caution. What happens on the web stays on the web, FOREVER.

With all the tools that are available online today, there is no reason for you not to know what others are saying. We all know that if we do something right or special for a customer they will tell a few people. But if we make a mistake or do something they don’t think was fair, they will tell every one they see. And post it on Facebook, Twitter, local community sites and maybe even make a YouTube video. If that’s the only review out there, how does that make you look? To safeguard against that, cultivate your own reviews. Ask your customers and clients to write a review on your Google places page, on your Yelp page, or on Facebook. Carry a video camera and ask your good customers record their testimonials. Now one bad review among the dozens of glowing reviews has little damaging effect.

Set up Google alerts on your name or your companies name to know when someone’s talking about you and what they say. Set up TweetDeck or SocialMention to find out who’s mentioning you on Twitter and the other social media. If you see a problem, address it immediately. Don’t wait.

Guard your online persona with the same vigilance you would your home, your business and your family.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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Website vs. Facebook

While teaching a Facebook for Business class last week, I went around the room and asked why everyone was there.  I was amazed at the number of people (at least a third of the group) that were there because they didn’t have a website and thought Facebook would do the trick.

I immediately pulled out my soapbox and carefully climbed on top.  You’re trying to market online with no website?!?  In today’s connected world, it’s a snap to pop on your computer or smart phone and do a quick search for any business.  Without a website, how are you going to get found?  And assuming someone accidentally stumbles upon your Facebook page, just exactly how much information are they going to get to make their buying decision.   Plus, my totally un-scientific observations tells me that if someone doesn’t have a website, there’s a pretty good chance they don’t have a customized Facebook page either.

Short of suggesting a Facebook business page to friends (which recent changes to Facebook severely restricted), how are you going to drive traffic to your business page?  A “Follow Us On Facebook” link on your website can help drive traffic back to your FB page where you can begin an interactive dialog with your potential customers/clients.

Social Media FunnerOnline marketing is like a big funnel.  At the top of the funnel is Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  These are like the card tables in the grocery store on Saturday where you can get a taste of new food product.  If you like it, you will go find the product so you can have more.  When people read your 140 character bites and want more, where are they going to go?

Fresh and timely content that showcase your expertise is where you want them going.  And the source for that is your blog.  A blog should give a reader just the right portion for them to digest.  Like the story of the new country preacher on his first Sunday.  With all the preparations made, he’s standing at the door waiting to welcome everyone.  But to his dismay, only one old farmer shows up.  He asks the farmer what he should do and the farmer replies, “Well son.  If I only have one cow in the barn, I feed it.”  So the young preacher launches into his service complete with a 45 minute sermon and 2 alter calls.  As he is standing by the door after the service he asks the farmer what he thought, to which he replied, “Well, I would feed the one cow, but I wouldn’t give him the whole barn full.”  We are an impatient society.  We don’t want the whole barn full in your blog post, just a nice, digestable portion.

Your blog is the bridge to your call to action which should be your website.  (If your website doesn’t tell the browser what action to take, that’s the subject of another post.)

Whether your business is a brick and mortar business, home based business or internet business, having a website is a crucial component that adds legitimacy.  It’s the anchor point of your marketing program, where the efforts poured into the top of your funnel come rushing out.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz Online Marketing Solutions specialize in web site design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and text message marketing. Need to know how to better use social media — check out Social Media Lab, providing step-by-step instructional videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging.

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Social Media – Top 10 Reasons You Need To Post and Tweet

Using social media to market your business is not an option anymore. More than 40% of small businesses don’t have websites and another 25% opt not to sell their products or services on the Internet.  You still have time to join the minority.

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Here are the top 10 reasons for you to post, friend and tweet right now:

10. Everyone is out there. Social media sites are the new communities. It’s where people interact, voice their opinions, get their news and shop.

9. The world is your marketplace.Unless you have to physically hold your client’s hand or can’t carry online inventory, with a PayPal account and an “Order Now” button you can do business everywhere.

8. Give them something to talk about. One of the fastest ways to spread your words is with outrageousness. This creates stories to tell. People will love to read them and share them. If their friends love them and share them, the next thing you know, you’re Susan Boyle.susan-boyle

7. Word of mouth is back. Social media is the perfect venue for spreading the much-coveted (and free) word of mouth advertising. The social sites give you access to an audience that has an audience that has an audience.

6. No one is an expert. A handful of people have reached big audiences with their advice or product. But, because of the web’s sheer complexity, no one has mastered any niche. If you really know your stuff, go for it.

5. It’s cheap. If you want to spend the time and learn to do it yourself, you can set up your social media accounts for nothing. Well, it will probably require a few pots of coffee to get you through the process.

4. It’s an addiction. People are spending hours a day posting and tweeting. In the last century, this obsession was known as television. This time around it’s interactive, so get out there and interact. It won’t cost you $1 million for a 30 second spot.

3. Make a difference. Social media communities are at their best when spreading the meaningful – promoting a charity, sending prayers and good wishes and even just putting out positive vibe. Get those stories started yourself.

2. You can be brief. Especially in the social media communities, the shorter your message the better. Isn’t it a lot easier to write a 140 character tweet than a 500 word sales letter?

and the #1 reason to participate in social media:

1. Promote your business. Yes, you can do that here too. The recommended ratio of business to advice and information posts is about 10 to 1. Don’t be obnoxious, promote a good thing and people will buy.

The major social media sites already report over 500 million members. Do the math. You could probably find a few thousand followers among that population, and probably make at least a few hundred sales.

Are you struggling with what to say?  “Open the Door to a World of Mouth, Get Your Message Heard & Create a Following That Does Your Advertising for You” e-book gives you a blueprint for writing compelling copy for the web and for your social media.  Get your copy now at www.writeon800biz.com

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Drawing Pass Patterns In The Dirt – Social Media Plans

What's Your Social Media Game Plan

What's Your Social Media Game Plan

Every sporting team has a game plan, a series of scripted actions that hopefully will lead to the outcome they desire, a win.  For a football team, it’s inside handoff, a safety blitz or a post pattern.  In basketball, it may be a pick and roll or a triangle and two defense. Baseball players practice, the suicide squeeze while pitchers and catchers go over the pitch sequence for each batter.

The goal of having a game plan is to have a successful outcome, winning the game. And of course it doesn’t always happen, because the opponents have their own game plan. So it comes down to who can execute their game plan the best.

Isn’t the same true for your business? You have a desired outcome, either making more money, selling more products or providing a better service. So shouldn’t you have a game plan?

But the question is where to start? The first step in the process should be defining what outcome you want. Making a ton of money isn’t an outcome, it’s a fairytale. So the first step should be defining the goals for your business. Beginning by setting SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. There are many resources that discuss SMART goals and how to set them, so I won’t cover that here, other than to say, it is critical to know where you’re going and be able to measure your progress along the way.

So now that you have your goals set and know what outcome you want, its time to design the plays to make those happen. The first step is defining who is your target market. The second step then, becomes how do you reach your target market.

That’s where social media comes into play. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin have very broad demographics. Facebook currently has over 400 million people with the fastest growing segment being over 35 and female. In fact, Facebook is now the number two most trafficked site on the web. In March of 2010 during a one-week time period, Facebook actually got more traffic than Google.

If your business targets professionals with 100,000+ income, LinkedIn might be your best choice. While not as social a community, the LinkedIn users are categorized by their business and professions. So if you want to target marketing officers in the healthcare industry, for example, you can do that.

The incredible power social media offers to create a buzz in the marketplace is really at the heart of its strength and popularity. You can spend thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in advertising, and only hope your message reaches your targeted customers. But with social media, you can target those customers, where they’re spending a lot of time with very little cost.

I’ve always said, if I could sell word-of-mouth advertising, I would be sitting on a beach somewhere with a cell phone saying “send me a check for $100,000, and I will deliver the customers to you”. But now, that’s not far from the truth (at least the part about word-of-mouth advertising.) Social media has elevated referral marketing or word of mouth advertising to a viral state. Now, we don’t have to be on the phone or at a party talking to a friend to recommend a business. We do that on our social media sites. And while we only talk to a handful of people on the phone or, at that party, our entire circle of friends will see a recommendation posted on our wall.

So unless your business game plan includes a social media plan, you’re more like the sandlot sports team drawing plays in the dirt. You might occasionally get lucky and throw a touchdown. But if you come up against a team (business) with a well practiced game plan, success will not likely be in your future.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com have over 10 years experience in website design, search engine optimization and social media marketing. With over 30 years in business and consulting, we understand your business needs and partner with you to grow your business.

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Is SEO Dead?

For the last 5 or more years, I couldn’t pick up a newsletter or ezine without finding an article about search engine optimization.  That is, until now.

Ten years ago, we focused on adding meta tags to our websites to get them ranked.   Five years ago, it was about linking strategies.  Then content became king.  And with each change, SEO specialists like myself adapted.  So how to you drive traffic to your site today?

The evolution of search today has taken on a real time emphasis.  Looking for the news? Today the news finds you.   Of course, you want the latest information on whatever you are searching for.  Nothing is more frustrating than going to a website and finding information from 2006.  Even if it’s still pertinent, chances are you will go on to a more current site.

Real search or live search focuses on delivering the most recent information.  And that information is frequently not from a website.  The most recent information is more likely a blog post or even a Twitter tweet.  Yes, I said a Twitter tweet.  Here’s a good example:

A Google search for “Iceland Volcano” resulted in a section for Latest News – that contains a live feed changing every few seconds.  The listing below shows results from just minutes before.

Twitter Results in Google

Twitter Results in Google

Directly below the Latest News is a section for Video results that displays YouTube videos of the Iceland Volcano.  What every happened to the Google we all knew that took 90 days to get your site found?

Video Results - YouTube

Video Results - YouTube

So should you abandon your website for a blog, Twitter account and YouTube channel?  Not yet.  I look at the social media like a big funnel.  Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should be funneling people to your blog and your blog should be funneling people to your website, where browsers can find out details about you and your business and hopefully take action (but that’s another topic).

Another reason you can’t abandon search engine optimization (SEO) and your website is the permanency of social media.  You might be ranking well with your current article, post, tweet or video, but as more recent media are found, yours will either drop in ranking or disappear all together.  So you website is the anchor. A well designed, search engine optimized website should remain fairly stable (even in competitive keywords.)  For example, search for “Tucson Interior Design” in Google.  Of the top 4 results, 3 of the sites are ones that were optimized by 800biz.com several years ago.  With little or no changes, these sites have maintained their top ranking consistently.

So for now, SEO is still alive and kicking.  But today, you there are more pieces of the online marketing puzzle to put together.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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5 Tips For Using Social Media For What You Already Are Doing

One of the biggest road blocks facing small businesses when addressing social media is the question of return on investment. With so little time devote to what’s crying out to be done, adding something else or something new like social media can feel like a real burden. Sometimes the only way to rationalize and prioritize something new is to understand the benefits in relation to everything else your doing and take a new view based on that understanding.

So much of what’s written on social media amounts to lists of things you should do, get on twitter, blog, create a Facebook fan page, and not enough on why you might consider doing it. While all those tactics may indeed be wise, I would like suggest a number of ways to use those actions to do a better or more efficient job doing things you’re already (or should be) doing.

Start to think in terms of doing more with less effort, not simply doing more. If I can let small business owners get a glimpse of social media through this lens, they might just decide to go a little deeper. Here are five ways to look at it.

1) Follow up with prospects

I love using social media tools as a way to follow-up with prospects you might meet out there in the real world. So you go to a Chamber event and meet someone that has asked you to follow-up. Traditionally, you might send an email a week later or call them up and leave a voice mail. What if instead you found them on LinkedIn, asked to be connected and then shared an information rich article that contained tips about the very thing you chatted about at the Chamber mixer. Then you offered to show them how to create a custom RSS feed to get tons of information about their industry and their competitors. Do you think that next meeting might get started a little quicker towards your objectives? I sure do.

2) Stay top of mind with customers

Once someone becomes a customer it’s easy to ignore them, assuming they will call next time they need something or, worse yet, assuming they understand the full depth and breadth of your offerings and will chime in when they have other needs. Staying in front of your customers and continuing to educate and upsell them is a key ingredient to building marketing momentum and few businesses do it well.

This is an area where a host of social media tools can excel. A blog is a great place to put out a steady stream of useful information and success stories. Encouraging your customers to subscribe and comment can lead to further engagement. Recording video stories from customers and uploading them to YouTube to embed on your site can create great marketing content and remind your customer why they do business with you. Facebook Fan pages can be used as a way to implement a client community and offer education and networking opportunities online.

3) Keep up on your industry

Keeping up with what’s happening in any industry is a task that is essential these days. With unparalleled access to information many clients can learn as much or more about the products and solutions offered by a company as those charged with suggesting those products and solutions. You better keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant. Of course I could extend this to keeping up with what your customers, competitors, and key industry journalists are doing as well.

Here again, new monitoring services and tools steeped in social media and real time reporting make this an easier task. Subscribing to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists and viewing new content by way of a tool such as Google Reader allows you to scan the day’s content in one place. Setting up Google Alerts and custom Twitter Searches (see more about how to do this) or checking out paid monitoring services such as Radian6 or Trackur allows you to receive daily email reports on the important mentions of industry terms and people so you are up to the minute in the know. (Of course, once you do this you can teach your customers how to do it and make yourself even more valuable to them – no matter what you sell.)

4) Provide a better customer experience

It’s probably impossible to provide too much customer service, too much of a great experience, but you can go nuts trying.

Using the new breed of online tools you can plug some of the gaps you might have in providing customer service and, combined with your offline touches, create an experience that no competitor can match.

While some might not lump this tool into social media, I certainly think any tool that allows you to collaborate with and serve your customers qualifies. Using an online project management tool such as Central Desktop allows you to create an entire customer education, orientation, and handbook kind of training experience one time and then roll it out to each new customer in a high tech client portal kind of way. This approach can easily set you apart from anyone else in your industry and provide the kind of experience that gets customers talking.

5) Network with potential partners

Building a strong network of strategic marketing partners is probably the best defense against any kind of economic downturn. One of the surest ways to attract potential partners is to build relationships through networking. Of course you know that, but you might not be viewing this kind of networking as a social media function.

If you identify a potential strategic partner, find out if they have a blog and start reading and commenting. Few things will get you noticed faster than smart, genuine blog comments. Once you establish this relationship it might make sense to offer a guest blog post. If your use a CRM tool (and you should) you’ve probably noticed that most are moving to add social media information to contact records, add your potential partners social media information and you will learn what’s important to them pretty quickly.

If you know how to set up a blog already, offer to create a blog of network partners so each of you can write about your area of expertise and create some great local SEO for the group.

So, you see, you don’t have to bite into the entire social media pie all at once. Find a tool, a technique, a tactic that makes your life easier today and provides more value for partners, prospects and customers and you’ll be on the path to getting some real ROI on your social media investment.

What social media tactics have you discovered that allow you to do more of something you’re already doing?

Article by John Jantsch on 03/16/2010 – Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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