Saturday, February 28, 2009

Web 2.0 and the Female Audience

Women control 80% of household spending, representing $1.7 trillion each year. There are 104 million of them online. Are you talking at them, or with them? There IS a difference!Women intuitively “get” social media and bring a unique voice, perspective and influence when engaging in conversations around your industry, products, and brand.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Throw me Something, Mister!

Just wanted to give you a quick peek at our AWESOME Mardi Gras weekend! Here's a pic with my best boy Jack. Little Tyler wouldn't stand still long enough to pose with me. He was too busy yelling, "Throw me something, Mister!" and dashing around to catch beads! (He caught on REAL quick.) The only sad part was that neither of them remembered how we did this with them when they were even younger! How I miss home some days....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Cost of Social Media

The big cost associated with social networking is TIME. Yes…one MORE thing to fit into your day. However, it will be time well spent if you follow a few simple suggestions.

1. Be consistent—strive to devote 10-15 minutes at the beginning and end of your day if you are just starting out. You are far more likely to build your network by simply showing up. You can increase your time as you learn the ropes and discover the tools of automation available for use.

2. Be a good listener—seek first to understand. No further explanation required.

3. Be of value--engage in conversation about which you have knowledge and/or experience. If you are a CPA and can offer some great tips for tax time, then share them! If you've been in real estate for years and have the insider's guide to selling a house, then share it! By sharing you become a trusted source of information. In today's world, trust goes a long way.

4. Be yourself—you don’t have to be a celebrity or a rock star here. In fact, social media has its own rock stars. Who knows…you may be the NEXT BIG THING that goes viral in the social media world. And for once, this virus is something you would WANT to catch.


Let's Get It Started!

Lately, I've met with clients who are overwhelmed by the sheer number of networks available online. So WHERE do you start? My humble suggestion is to start with the following networks to get in the game: Twitter and LinkedIn. Understand that each has its own culture and language but each can be highly effective when used properly.

Twitter is a micro-blogging community. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s an online version of a cocktail party. And truly, it is as conversational as that. You build your network by ‘following’ others and getting others to ‘follow’ you. In the Twitter world, this means that anything you enter will appear on the timeline for your followers to view and vice versa. You can simply begin by setting up a free profile and then LISTEN to what the buzz is all about. To listen, you simply read. Read what, you ask? TWEETS, of course!

A tweet is the slang used for any single message posted at the site. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, so you must be brief and to the point. You can tweet as little or as much as you like. There are applications that can be managed from your desktop and even your mobile phone device—but we will discuss that another day.

Just have fun and remember, it’s supposed to be less formal than what you’re used to encountering in the work place. That’s the brilliance of it. It allows your clients, colleagues and customers to see behind the curtain, so to speak. Your personality shines through and that is why they will clamor to do business with you!

LinkedIn is considered the “professional’s” social network, although Facebook is beginning to challenge that. LinkedIn allows you to list your educational background, work history and even connect with past colleagues, co-workers and classmates.

It is not for the faint of heart, as the language can often seem as though you’re reading a resume how to guide. Don’t let this deter you, as everyone isn’t impressed by the jargon nor is it required. In fact, the lingo associated with this site had me so paralyzed with fear that I completely ignored this side in my own marketing efforts.

However, through my use of other social media communities, I too realized that there WAS a place for me (the work-at-home-mom-business-owner) on LinkedIn. So, I’ve been busy building MY professional network there. After all, I have to walk the talk!

So you see, you and I are similar..,we ALL need to start somewhere. Each time a new network emerges that adds value to my online presence; I will need to begin anew. It’s ever changing and evolving.

Want to test your skills? Set up a profile on Twitter. Follow me and I will follow you back. Let's also get LinkedIn together!

Tweet you later!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Ain't Your Momma's Networking!

What IS social media? Wikipedia defines Social media as: primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.

If you thought that social media was only for teenagers or single people trying to find love, you thought wrong! It’s here to stay and taking the internet by storm. There’s no time like the present to jump in, join the crowd, engage in conversation and if truth be told have fun while building your business.

Social media is quite literally a “virtual” word-of-mouth marketing network. Just how important are social media conversations about you and/or your business? Check out the following statistics:

• More than 1 in 8 viewers make a purchase after watching a video ad online – eMarketer
• Facebook has 150,000 new users sign up every single day – Time Magazine
• As of October 2006, about 100,000 new blogs were created every day – Technorati
• LinkedIn has a 137% growth year over year bringing its visitors to about 8 million per month -

Small business owners are beginning to realize the need to leverage social media to grow their businesses. However, it has been my recent experience that many do not know where to start, or worse--how to get the most out of their social media efforts.

I attended a networking event for women business owners and decided to conduct my own case study. I posed a seemingly simple question to each lady I encountered. “Are you incorporating social media in the growth strategy for your business?” One of two things occurred. Either the look of a “deer-caught-in-the-headlights” appeared on their face, followed by a blank stare, followed by the inevitable response of “HUH?! Social WHO?” or I received an overwhelmingly confident “I have a profile on LinkedIn!” Obviously, the latter was given in an effort to imply THAT was all they needed. How would you respond? Wait…don’t answer that!

Whether you realize it or not, the only person who is going to drive your business and our economy forward is YOU. It’s time to put a new plan into effect and it is crucial that social media networking be included in that plan. People aren’t just wasting time on social networking sites anymore. Savvy and growing businesses are utilizing these tools to build new relationships with those that can bring them new business. Even more impressive are those “BIG” businesses (E.g., Jet Blue, Dell, Whole Foods, Apple) using social media tools, such as Twitter, to improve customer retention and satisfaction by adding a “human” element to their brand—thus driving sales.

For the record, social media is NOT a sales tool. It is a relationship building tool that will drive sales, if done properly. Utilizing social media is a lot like networking offline, meaning that it’s easier to get and give business with people you know on a personal level. Your goal is to let them see the authentic you in order to build relationships. Once that is done you’ll have a captive audience ready to give back to you!(Hint: that’s where the SALES part comes into play.)

It’s not so much the method that you choose (whether LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc.) but what you do WITHIN that community that matters most. Having 10 profiles in 10 different networks only to never return again will do LESS for you than having 2 or 3 profiles in communities where you are an active participant.

Bottom line: You better put your “big girl” panties on and just do it, because your competition is!