Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is there a Social Media sales funnel?

Or: When I find potential customers how do I handle them?

In Social Media it’s extremely important to remember that the first word is “Social.”

This means it’s not a place to overtly sell anything … really, it’s not. But there is a way for businesses to engage in Social Media to benefit from their time an effort on the Social Web.

Three Steps to Engagement

1. Start by being a good listener: The more you listen the more you will learn and the more you will understand your customers and potential customers. Heck, you might even hear things you had not thought of that will help your business.

2. Talk with (and to) the social web: Start sharing yourself and your knowledge. Answer others’ questions. Help others find answers. Share really good things you find. Or just share an interesting take on something that is on your mind. Be genuine and people will get to know you and over time will come to trust you.

3. Listen for specific opportunities: Opportunities for you meet a need or make a suggestion that involves a service you provide or something you sell. But BE CAREFUL. If your offer of help sounds disingenuous or self-serving you will alienate a customer or potential customer.

A Sales Funnel for Social Media?

Can a traditional sales funnel be applied to Social Media? I would argue that, yes, it can.

Working down a Social Media sales funnel:

1. Audience: The largest number of people you are engaged with on the Web. Many of whom may not want to, or may not yet know that want to, do business with you.

2. Prospects: The next smallest group of people with whom you are engaged. The ones who have expressed some form of interest in you, your company or something you do.

3. Leads: The next smallest group contains people who have signed up to be contacted or have asked for your help. These are the folks who are interested in what you are selling.
4. Conversions: The group who have money on your goods or services and who
reached that point because they saw value in you and/or your business.

5. Evangelists: These are the pure gold in Social Media. These are people so excited about their dealings with you and your product that they go out of their way to tell others.

At each stage of the funnel you need to have a Social Media and Inbound Marketing strategies to maximize the chances that your efforts will not go unrewarded. (For more on inbound marketing, I recommend Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Resources, including the excellent – and free – Inbound Marketing University program)
A Social Media strategy, for example, would be having a way to acknowledge your Evangelists publicly and also, perhaps, to reward them privately.

An Inbound Marketing strategy, for example, would be having a plan in place to reach out to Prospects once they are identified on the social web.

Whatever you do, it is extremely important to remember that it’s called Social Media for a reason – don’t do anything that can be seen as “anti-social”!

Related posts:
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media
10 Commandments for Social Media

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twitter ‘expert” or Twitter ‘twit’?

It really is buyer beware out there – even on free webinars

Social Media’s reputation for being a bit like the Wild West of old is not helped by the current proliferation of people “selling” their Twitter “expertise.”

Just today I came across this pitch (selected quotes here) for a free Webinar that you just know is really a sales pitch:

“What is Twitter? Is Twitter for me? Can I increase sales? Can I increase brand awareness? Learn the ‘Secrets’ of Twitter and why you NEED to be there.” It goes on to say that “During this one hour event you will discover best practices” which it says includes “How to be on the fast track for your business” and “Results-driven sales strategies you can use in your marketing plan.”

This is an odd thing, really, because this sounds like old school “push” selling not at all like New School “customer engagement” for which Social Media such as Twitter is better suited.

But there are other clues that this particular person (whom I should, but will not name) is selling themselves as an expert in Twitter when really they may have little to offer on that platform. For example, this person:

- Does not list their Twitter handle in their promotional materials, which might lead you to suspect he/she does not want to be checked up on.

- Joined Twitter in October last year and in nine months has tweeted a total of 180 times – or an average of 20 times a month. But almost 40 of those tweets came in the past week as the date for the webinar drew close.

- Ranks poorly across numerous Twitter grading sites. For example, Twitalyzer ranks their Twitter use as “very, very low” or “very low” across three of five categories and “slowly emerging” in another.

Tips for detecting a “Twit”

1. Find their Twitter name and look at their profile. Pay attention to number Following vs. Followers and the number of Updates. If there is a Web link check out the site the Twitter profile is linked to. What you find there will often reveal a lot about the person behind the Twitter account.

2. Use Twitter Search to plug in their user name and see how much activity shows up and, perhaps more importantly, when it shows up. A savvy Twitter user will not have clusters of tweets at a given time ona given day and then long gaps of inactivity.

3. Use Twitter grading tools to see if this “expert” ranks well among other Twitter users. Two quick ones:

Twitter Grader: Here you enter the “expert’s” Twitter name and see how they score. Do not be overly impressed by a score in the low- to mid-90s (on a scale of 100). An actively engaged Twitter user will score 97, 98, 99 or even 100 out of 100. This tool also tells you how long the user has been on Twitter.

Twitalyzer: This tool measures a Twitter user in five areas: Influence, Signal, Generosity, Velocity and Clout. It also tells you the trends for this user from “unchanged” to “improving.” A user with generally low scores and trends that are “unchanged” in all five areas is likely less than fully engaged in Twitter.

In summary, anyone seeking expertise in any Social Media such as Twitter would be well advised to do a little research – and the social web makes this easier than ever.

Related Posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
10 Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter
Fighting Twitter Pyramid Schemes
The Twitter Term “Twanker”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Twitter term ‘Twanker’

The new term for the badly behaved in 140 characters

Social Media has this nifty ability to adapt and evolve – seemingly daily.

There’s a new term floating around for someone who practices bad behavior on Twitter – “Twanker.” And it came into being at the June Twitter 140 Characters Conference courtesy of Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett.

The story, as related in Mr. Hayzlett’s blog, is that he asked the crowd during a speech to the conference what they would call people who behaved badly on Twitter and the overwhelming response was Twanker.

You can read more in his blog post Crowdsourcing a new term for bad behavior on Twitter The blog has spawned a Twitter hashtag – #twanker – a search on which reveals some good discussion.

In the blog Mr. Hayzlett describes three types of Twankers whom he labels: “Ambushers,” “Lazy Auto Repliers” and “Tweeting Terrorists.”

These are good examples, but I’d like to add three more:

The Vain: People whose Tweet stream is littered with “I” as in “ I just …” “I am…” and “I wonder …” Please get over yourself, you are a Twanker.

The Rude:People who respond to Direct Messages (DM) with very public “@” responses seemingly designed to put the other person in their place. “@XYZ you have no right to tell me what to do” or “@XYZ I can’t believe you would think I care” or similar rejoinders to a private message. Please remember what starts in a DM should stay in a DM or, you guessed it, you are a Twanker.

The Self-Important: People who never miss an opportunity to puff up their own self-importance. “Just had lunch with (fill in the blank with big business name)” or “Just had a meeting with producers of (fill in the blank with name of big TV show).” OK, you’re a big deal … but apparently have a fragile ego and need to keep reminding yourself – and us – of just what a big deal you are. And that makes you a Twanker.

There must be more great examples … and I’d love to hear them. The beauty of Social Media and platforms such as Twitter is that it can be self regulating … please share.

Related post:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 Reasons I won’t follow you on Twitter

There are probably hundreds more, but …

There are probably dozens if not hundreds of reasons some people on Twitter won’t follow others. Here are my Top 10 reasons.

I won’t follow you if …

1. You don’t have a bio: There may be a good reason, but I can’t imagine what it is. It takes 30 seconds to say something about who you are. The same thing goes if you don’t have a geographic location. It does not need to be specific: city and state or city and country will do just fine. Of course, if you have something to hide … that too is reason enough not to follow you.

2. You don’t have an avatar: The Twitter "egg" avatar just tells the world you haven’t made the time to get a small picture or symbol out there … or maybe you have something to hide.

3. You have been on Twitter for less than a month: Unless I can see a history of activity stretching back at least a month I suspect all Twitter accounts to have a.) hidden agendas or b.) be the accounts of people not fully committed to being part of the Twitter community … yet. I’ve been told this is hard on newbies, but I know from experience that too many newbies set up an account, tweet a few times and then go silent. (Of course if I know you in real life, that's different.)

4. You don’t tweet at least once per day: You don’t have to tweet every day, but if you’re only tweeting once or twice a week the chances are I will miss your tweets and we really won’t interact at all. So why bother?

5. You have nothing to say or share: We’ve all seen the accounts where people build large follower numbers and in three months on Twitter have only tweeted a few dozen times to let the world know “It’s raining here now” or “Just made a PBJ sandwich.” Really? Is this adding value to anyone? Yourself included?

6. You follow way more people than follow you: You may not be a creeper. You may just be desperate to build a large online following. Either way you scare me.

7. Your Profile reveals you are mostly there to sell: I get stuff pushed on me in plenty of other ways. I don’t need Twitter to feel like a selling channel.

8. Your tweet history is full of self-promotional words or links: If “you” are all about “you” and the things “you” want to sell or promote, then “you” clearly missed the memo that Twitter is supposed to be a “social” medium. “You” don’t need me to follow “you.” All “you” really need is a mirror so you can admire the view. See Commandment No. 1 in 10 Commandments for Social Media

9. You are promoting porn, gambling or other vices: ‘Nuff said. If I wanted this stuff I’m pretty sure I could find it on my own.

10. You are a business and only ever tweet about the business: As much as you love your business and think everybody else should too, I’m sorry I just don’t care. Having said that, I will admit to connecting with social causes and the organizations that support them. That at least seems more in the spirit of social media.

Related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
What Twitter isn’t
10 Commandments for Social Media