Online Marketing: Like Going Down a Rabbit Hole

If you’re looking to learn about social media and online marketing, you’ll find there are plenty of courses to choose from. Many focus on specific aspects of social media or online marketing so you can pick and choose the courses you want.

That’s great. But there’s one drawback….it’s all piece meal. You learn about landing pages from one source and Facebook marketing from another. You get tips on building your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles from another. You can even take courses about content marketing and get tips on blogging. It’s overwhelming.

How do you know what’s right for you and your circumstances?

Just because someone is having tremendous success with Facebook doesn’t mean you will….not if your ideal customers are spending the bulk of their time on another platform like LinkedIn or Google+.

So you have choices to make. You can try to figure it out on your own, enrolling in many of the excellent courses by the various online marketing gurus, or paying $30 a month on Lynda.com for thousands of different courses. Or you can try out my course at http://bit.ly/MktgSolopreneur.

I’ve utilized a systems thinking approach® to marketing that starts with where you want your business to be at some future date and why you chose to be in business, rather than just how to do various online marketing projects. I’ve also incorporated best practices from the online marketing gurus, and applied them to a specific focus – helping entrepreneurs, consultants and solopreneurs put together a marketing program that works for them. The focus is on using LinkedIn, Twitter, landing pages, email marketing, and content generation as the tools to attract your target audience, your ideal prospects, and eventually convert them into clients.

It’s comprehensive, targeted, and has step-by-step explanations of what you need to do to create and implement your social media marketing plan. I also provide resources that I’ve found very helpful that are either free or affordable to help you implement each phase of the marketing plan.

online marketing is like going down a rabit holeWith online marketing it’s easy to get drawn down a rabbit hole

But I’m the kind of person who needs to see the big picture first, to know what I want to accomplish, identify the steps to get there, and then set them in motion. In my years of doing online marketing, I’ve found how easy it is to get drawn down a rabbit hole and lose track of what you were trying to do in the first place.

Here’s an example:
Let’s say you need to create a landing page. So you set up an account on leadpages or Instapage and choose one of their templates. You start customizing it, and then you realize, “oh wait. I need to provide a lead magnet people can download.” (That’s the free item you offer in exchange for the visitor’s contact information). But guess what? You haven’t created it yet. Crap! You now need to get out of the program, and go record a video or write an article or an eBook, or find something else of value that’s relevant to your target audience.

So you get that done, and you get back into the program, and you realize, you don’t have any custom images. Crap again! You need to go find some images you can use (by paying for them or using a site like pixabay.com where you can download them free), or create your own. And you’ll need to resize them and make sure they’re the right resolution for online vs. print. Then you need to upload those images first before you get back into designing your landing page. “Why were you doing this you ask yourself? Oh, that’s right, it’s step one of my plan to attract a certain prospect and build my list. Hmmm….I need to make sure the images, video, ebook, article are the right ones for this target audience.”

Ok, so now you’ve got it all completed. You need to decide how you’re going to promote the page. Are you going to embed it on your website or use the landing page host? Darn. You need a custom domain, if you’re going to embed it or add it as a page on your website. Now you have to log into GoDaddy or some other platform to buy a custom domain. Of course you want to use key search terms that your ideal customer would use to search, but guess what, you haven’t done the keyword research yet. So first you need to do that. Then make a list of keywords you might use. Then check to see if they’re available as a custom domain (which they probably aren’t if they’re very popular). Wait. Why are you doing all this? Oh, right! You need this in order to put the landing page on your website!

See what I mean? It’s an endless rabbit hole, and sometimes, one thing leads to another, which leads to another, to the point where you just want to throw up your hands and say, “Get me outta here!”

That’s where online marketing consultants come in. I’ve tried to make this process simple in the course. No, I haven’t spelled out step-by-step examples like the one above because I don’t know what your business is, who your ideal client is, and what platforms you should use. I’ve had to generalize because there are so many options. If I tried to cover them all, the course would never be finished. What I’ve done is to create worksheets you fill out that cover the key questions you need to answer. Then give you the tools to focus on the primary platforms that make sense for consultants and solopreneurs. I’ve created my own videos that walk you through the process of filling out each worksheet. I’ve also demonstrated how to perfect and tweak your LinkedIn profile. And I’ve included videos by others who demonstrate how to do things like customize your Twitter profile.

Solopreneurs widgetSo now it’s up to you.

There is a huge amount of content built upon my years of learning and perfecting for our own practice. I hope you find it useful.  As a special promotion, I’m giving a 30% discount to the first 100 people who sign up for the course. There are still opportunities available, if you act quickly.  Just use the coupon code 30percent on the checkout page. There’s a link under the full price which says, “Have a coupon?”  Click that and enter the code 30percent, and you’ll get the discounted price.

Once you’ve completed the course, I’d love your feedback about its usefulness and ways it can be improved. Just fill out the survey at the end, or drop me a line at jeri at dennergroup dot com.

Agile Decision Making Framework is Flexible

The answer is Yes, you can! The question is, can you use the Agile Decision Making Framework for anything besides strategic planning?

Adapting the Agile Decision Making framework to social media planninggThe beauty of the Agile Decision Making Framework is that it can be applied to any type of project – even marketing and social media planning. The framework helps you focus your thinking by answering five strategic questions as you work your way around the template.

Many social media plans I’ve seen start with identifying your ideal customer and their specific needs. While this is important, it’s not the place to start.

Define your outcomes first

As with strategic planning, you need to start with your future outcomes. That way the actions you take are designed to help you achieve those outcomes. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework, start with Phase A, answering the question, Where do we want to be?  What do you want to accomplish through social media marketing? They should support the higher level outcomes of your organization’s overall strategic plan. Once you’ve determined which social media outcomes can help support those, you can begin to focus on your ideal customers and their needs. In the process, you’ll need to also identify which social media platforms they use the most so you focus your efforts there when you’re ready to take action.

Once you’ve completed Phase A, move on the Phase E. This will help you identify the future external factors that could have an impact on the actions you take today.  These become your future Opportunities and / or Threats that you need to consider so you’re prepared to respond should any of them occur. Why look at the external environment you ask? Because your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. What happens locally and even globally can have profound effects on your customers, their needs, and their desires for your products and services.

With social media, you have to continually be tracking these future trends because new platforms emerge and popular ones lose favor. You don’t want to be stuck on an island by stuck on an islandyourself after your customers have moved over to another platform. If you don’t periodically focus on Phase E, you could be missing the boat!

Once you’ve reviewed Phases A and E, you can move on to Phase B. This is where you identify the specific targets you want to reach and track through social media, answering the question, How will we know when we get there?

These may include the number of click throughs on your links, or a specific increase in customer engagement on your Facebook page, or a percentage increase in website traffic and/or subscribers to your email list. The more specific, the better, so you can track your efforts and see what progress you’re making.

Phase C comes next, answering the question, Where are we today?  The first three phases were focused on your future outcomes, your ideal customer’s needs, external trends, and specific goals. This phase looks at your current situation. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses related to social media? Are you just starting? Do you have a strong team working in this area? Do you need to hire a consultant to help? How well do you know the various platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.? How well versed are you with Google Analytics and Google Adwords? Those are the kinds of skill sets you want to list under your Strengths and Weaknesses. You should also fill out the Opportunities and Threats areas, which came from the external scan you did in Phase E.

By now, you should begin to see some major themes evolving. These become your high level strategies which you list under Phase D, answering the question, How will we get there? These are the specific actions you need to implement to close the gap between your current situation and your future outcomes. Some high level strategies might be training, hiring external talent, creating a social media policy, and customer engagement. Under each strategy will be specific actions you need to take, such as finding online training webinars, advertising for talent, researching social media policies you might adapt to your organization, and creating a content calendar.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework makes the process of creating your social media plan fairly simple and fast. The next step is to write it up and share it with your team. Then start to implement it!

Planning without action is just dreaming.

Why Should You Blog?

We all are pressed for time. After all, we have our businesses and consulting practices to run and clients to support. So where do you find time to write a blog? And why should you blog anyway?

One reason is to stay top of mind with prospects and customers. Blogs are one of the most popular ways people learn about you and your business. And because they tend to be updated frequently, they’re more likely to show up in online searches. Blogs are one way Google and other search engines know they should check your site frequently to see what’s new.

Blogs are also a way for others to share your posts with their networks. This helps you get found through social networks. Each blog post gives you the potential to generate new leads to your website, and having a call to action at the end of the post is one way to do that.

Hubspot wrote a post listing 6 Stats You Should Know About Business Blogging in 2015. One of the stats is that marketers who use blogs receive 67% more quality leads than those who don’t. Another is that companies that blog receive 97% more links to their website. See the Hubspot post for more stats about blogging.

If you hadn’t noticed, most of our articles in our newsletters go to our blog, which is also integrated with our website. This way we are driving traffic in both directions.

Blogging gives you an opportunity to educate your target audience about your services and knowledge. By sharing valuable content your prospects are seeking when they type those keywords into Google, you become known as a thought leader and resource.

Eventually, if you’re doing everything correctly (and there is a LOT to do), those prospects may turn into paying customers. And that’s the objective for most of us, right?

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your social media and blogging challenges.

Engaging Volunteers Through Social Media

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Engaging volunteers through social media offers many opportunities to motivate and inspire volunteers to support your organization. Focus on their interests and skill sets to design activities that will engage them more.

Last year I wrote a short article about Ten Ways to Engage Staff with Social Media. It was designed for large and mid-sized organizations seeking ways to get staff to support the larger organizational initiatives. We continually hear that the key challenge organizations have is not in creating the strategic plan and identifying the strategies and actions, but “implementing” the plan at all levels in the organization. How do you tap into the hearts and minds of your staff to motivate them to support these strategies while they perform their daily work commitments?

These 10 techniques I suggested in the article are also relevant for non-profit and charitable organizations with limited staff and which rely on volunteers to do much of the organizational work. This occurred to me the other day as I led a group of volunteers through a review and update of an association’s social media plan. We generated many ideas, but haven’t identified who will execute and how they will do this. So we face many of the same challenges as well.

In these busy times when everyone is over-tasked with work and family responsibilities, how do you get those same people to commit to helping your non-profit organization grow? How do you get your board members to actually do the work rather than just show up for meetings?

Social media offers a variety of platforms to keep volunteers engaged and informed. It’s important to think of creative ways to help them share information, to inspire them to action, to make the volunteer work fun, rather than a chore. Here are five ideas to help you understand and inspire your volunteers.

  • Think about who your volunteers are. What’s the average age? Do they work full-time in high powered jobs? Do they have long commutes between home and office? Or do they work from home or have flexible hours? Do they have young families or elderly parents to care for? Are they fully committed on weekends to soccer and football matches, ballet and music lessons, or elder care concerns?
  • What time commitment is needed to achieve your outcomes? Let your volunteers know what the expectations are. Can they support the organization while commuting to and from work? Social media can help them do this. Does their employer support volunteerism and give them time and budget dollars for this? Social media offers many ways to promote that organization’s support of your non-profit.
  • What are your volunteers’ other interests? Think about how you can weave support of the non-profit into their daily lives and interests – through contests, online games, online auctions, sharing stories, etc. Create platforms that are easy and fun to use, making it enjoyable to participate. Share heart-warming stories that inspire them to be involved.
  • What are your volunteers’ individual talents? Ask each one to identify their one specific talent, something they excel at doing and therefore really enjoy. If they could spend 8-10 hours a day doing just that, what would it be? Then build the volunteer activities around those skillsets. That way you have people pursuing their own passions rather than agreeing to take on a task they don’t really want because no one else has stepped up or that’s the vacancy that exists. Focus on their skills and interests, and you’ll eventually fill the needs for the major job functions and then some. With their help, you may find creative ways to outsource some of the more mundane, but necessary tasks.
  • Ask your volunteers to manage one of the social platforms – the one they use the most. You may find several agreeing to manage together as a group because they understand that platform and use it every day for themselves and/or their work. Set minimal criteria for branding and messaging, but give them creative license to create fun and interesting ways to engage others. Set challenge stretch goals with rewards to turn their activities into fun competitions with other volunteers. Regardless of our age, we all love to win!

Those are a few ideas I hope to implement with my social media committee. Perhaps I‘ve stimulated other ideas in your mind. If so, please share. If you would like a copy of my article about Ten Ways to Engage Staff With Social Media, click the button below.

Get the article

Social Media Apps Make Sharing Easy

Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Many social media apps exist to make content sharing easy.  Choose the right ones for you to stay connected with your audience and enhance customer engagement with your brand.

Are you using any of the smart phone apps to post while on the go? There probably are hundreds but you don’t need them all – Just the ones that make it easy to post, share and engage with your audience when the inspiration strikes.

Social media apps make sharing easyObviously, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+ have their own. So do Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare, which now switches you over to their new app, Swarm, for social location sharing.

Then there’s Instagram, which Facebook owns, to make it easy to snap photos and videos and share with your friends. And Twitter has Vine which makes it easy to record and share short videos. Snapchat and Whatsapp are two popular apps for instant messaging with friends.

Beyond these are others which make it easy to share from your smart phone across multiple social sites. These are some of my favorites:

Pulse – now owned by LinkedIn, the app on your phone makes it possible to customize just the news sources you want, browse current stories and trends, and share them across multiple sites.

Bitly – primarily a url shortener, it also lets you connect a variety of social profiles to share your shortened links. Set up your account from your desktop, connecting your social profiles. Then download the app to your smartphone so you can share those shortened links while on the go.

Buffer – This is an app which installs in your browser enabling you to share content as you’re visiting various sites online. You can either share instantly or use Buffer’s robust algorithms to choose the right time to share on the various social sites you’ve connected. Buffer lets you connect two sites for free.

Hootsuite – useful on desktop computers, this app connects up to five of your social profiles for free letting you schedule messages for times you choose. You can share, comment, message, and interact on all those sites just using the one app. No need to visit each social profile to see what’s trending. It all shows up within Hootsuite, and it uses its own ow.ly url shortener.

LinkedIn Connected – have you seen this app? It makes it easy to stay in touch with your connections, congratulate them on recent job anniversaries or new promotions, send them messages, etc.

What are some of your favorite apps for social sharing and customer engagement on the go?

5 Social Media Trends Affecting Business in 2015

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Social media is evolving rapidly. Organic Facebook posts are disappearing in order to reach wider target audiences. New tools are being developed to give marketers better insight and tracking of their social networking interactions. Social everything is the new normal – from ecommerce, to payment systems to improved customer service.

You may have seen this on LinkedIn. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, published a post about The 5 social media business trends you need to know for 2015. The pace of social media impact is projected to expand even more this year than last. According to a Duke University study on social media, businesses are projected to triple their marketing budgets for social media this year, from 9 percent in 2014 to nearly 20% in 2015. Yet many businesses have difficulty showing the impact that social media has had on their business.  The five social media trends Holmes cites are:

Businesses must pay to play on Facebook

Facebook organic reach is droppingOrganic reach on Facebook is trending down. Historically its proprietary algorithm reached about 16% of fans, but lately it’s only about 6% according to Ogilvy PR researchers.

That means if you want your posts to be seen on Facebook by your target audience, you must invest in paid social ads and promoted posts and/or spread your messages to other platforms.

Better Social media measurement tools

New tools like uberVU, can now tell you exactly which social sites are generating the most clicks, shares and traffic. Like the Bufferapp, these tools can also autoschedule posts for the optimum time on each social platform you use. Hootsuite has integrated a social CRM app called Nimble, which lets you track and conduct conversations with customers directly from within the Nimble app.

Social ecommerce is here

We’ve seen and may even use mobile payment tools like Square and PayPal Here which let us pay for goods and services using our smart phones. Apple has launched its own payment app as well. 2015 brings the launch of SnapCash by the mobile message app SnapChat, which allows users to transfer money to one another via text message. And apparently Facebook has developed its own app to allow members to transfer funds to one another via its Messenger service. Look for that to launch later this year. Peer-to-peer payments like this are just the start, however. Look for retailers to dive into this technology by sending offers as Tweets or Facebook posts which you can activate or purchase with just a few taps on your mobile device.

Customer satisfaction increases with social media

Three McKinsey principals authored an article citing results of a 2012 ecare study of 2000 telecom customers in France. The survey showed that customer satisfaction improved when handled via social media because it was more personalized. Businesses that handle customer issues well get instant recognition on social media. The reverse is true, as well, as we’ve seen with many examples of poor customer service resulting in viral social media promotion across many networks. The authors of A World Gone Social list several examples of social media mismanagement in their book, including a music retailer’s massive layoff in 2012 which was broadcast via Twitter by affected employees using the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring.

A new option this year which Ryan mentions in his article is the development of personalized Tweet-to-call links. If a customer tweets about a specific problem or issue, the Tweet-to-call technology enables the company to Tweet back with a custom link for that customer alone. Clicking on that link takes the customer to a customer service rep who can handle the specific issue.

Social media innovations will come from your employees

The cloud has put technology control in the hands of your employees and customers. This trend will continue as people continue to find social apps which help them do their jobs more efficiently. Examples are Yammer, which facilitates internal social networking and communication, and Google Hangouts, which enables people to hold instant online video conferencing. To see which new apps are trending in your company, Ryan suggests checking out the laptops and mobile devices being used by your newbie just out of college staff or 20-something interns.

Change is difficult

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International November 12,2014

A World Gone SocialI’m reading A World Gone Social by Ted Coiné and Michael Babbit, and it grabs you in the first few pages. Right at the start the authors give several examples of how social media is creating a sea change in how companies operate. It has caused major challenges for many companies, including two well-known companies, Abercrombie & Fitch and Barilla (known for their pasta). Both situations were the result of comments by the CEOs which before social media would have gone largely unnoticed by most people.

The A&F CEO candidly commented in a 2006 interview that “In every school there are the cool kids and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…..we go after the cool kids.” By 2013, the company had experienced seven consecutive quarters of declining sales and declining stock value, and angry consumers were buying used A&F clothing and donating it to the homeless in support of a hashtag campaign, #FitchtheHomeless. This year, the CEO was asked to step down and the company is looking for a buyer.

On the other extreme, the generosity of a New Hampshire Panera restaurant manager has resulted in a 34 percent increase in same store sales, more than 800,000 likes on their Facebook page, and nearly 35,000 comments. This, because of a Facebook post by the mother of Brandon Cook, who contacted the Panera  manager to see if he could buy a bowl of clam chowder for his grandmother who was dying of cancer.

Here is the Facebook post Brandon’s mother shared on Panera’s Facebook page copied from the book, A World Gone Social:

My grandmother is passing soon with cancer. I visited her the other day and she was telling me about how she really wanted soup, but not hospital soup because she said it tasted “awful”; she went on about how she really would like some clam chowder from Panera. Unfortunately, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. I called the manager, Sue, and told them the situation. I wasn’t looking for anything special just a bowl of clam chowder. Without hesitation she said absolutely she would maker her some clam chowder. When I went to pick it up they wound up giving me a box of cookies as well. It’s not that big of a deal to most, but to my grandma it meant a lot. I really want to thank Sue and the rest of the staff from Panera in Nashua, NH just for making my grandmother happy.  Thank you so much!

It makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? All because the Panera manager did something nice that was not part of store policy or on the menu for that day and it was shared on Facebook.

Social media has had and continues to have major impacts on how people communicate. The consumer now has the power and the voice, thanks to social media. It brings in the human side of business and enables the average consumer to influence their peers and talk directly to executives. without the traditional political barriers of old.

This change is difficult for CEOs and executives who are stuck in the days of how we always did it before.  Top-down command and control is not longer effective nor efficient.  Thanks to our digital world, knowledge (and the power that goes with it) is available to anyone willing to do a Google search – it is no longer limited to the few at the top of the corporation. According to Coiné who participated in one of the World Strategy Week panels last week, companies that fail to embrace social will be gone in three years. The old ways just don’t work anymore and resisting the change is just stubborn arrogance, something that was beautifully displayed off the Irish coast in 1998. Many of us have heard this story before, but it’s worth repeating:

Irish: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south, to avoid a collision
British: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
Irish: Negative. Divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
British: This is the captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Irish: Negative. I say again, you will have to divert YOUR course.
British: This is the aircraft carrier HMS Britannia! We are the second largest ship in the British Atlantic fleet.  We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 15 degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship and her crew.
Irish: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

 

Social Media Has Changed How Leaders Lead and Act

A World Gone SocialIn their new book, A World Gone Social, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbit share real-world stories and examples of how companies are embracing social media as a platform for building customer relationships and engaging staff. Not just small companies, but Fortune 500 companies. (Coiné is one of the World Strategy Week panelists.)

During an Interview with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbit, Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach, asked about the life of employees and how social media has changed that.

“Social media and mobile devices that have enabled us to leverage social media have made the 9-5 mentality irrelevant. It’s gone.” said Babbit.  The 9-5 work day is gone thanks to our new always connected, 24/7 world. While a few people still follow the traditional work life of commuting to an office and working their 8.5 hours and then commuting home again, the majority of us are actively engaged in “work and life” almost all the time.

Social has changed the way employees engage with their leaders. The old business school model of ÿhr leader is in charge and knows all the answers” is no longer valid. According to Babbit, “especially for us males, we see ourselves in that role of knowing everything; women, on the other hand,” says Babbit, “have had that figured out a long time ago. They were much more democratic in their leadership. They were much better listeners, and much better engagers.” This helps to “empower” employees, Nasser says in the interview. “Becoming a social leader means relinquishing power and knowledge. It’s scary for leaders and portends a complete shift in how leaders think and act and lead,” says Babbit.

Social Media a Productivity Killer

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

A friend shared a link to a survey about workplace productivity killers, posted on The Employer Handbook, published by Eric B. Meyer, Esquire. The survey pointed out that web surfing and social media were considered two of the top culprits after cell phones and texting and gossip.

This kind of snapshot view is limiting in my estimation and can be misinterpreted. Social media isn’t the root cause of lack of employee productivity. Yes, some employees do dumb things that waste time. I would say those that do probably work in an environment or a job where they have few personal freedoms or little flexibility. Or they’re under-utilized or simply in the wrong job and bored.

So much of it depends on the company culture and the company size. Early in my career, when I joined a target marketing technology company, they had 70+ employees and were housed in a 2 story building in an Encinitas, CA office park. The downstairs was mostly empty and the employees used it to toss basketballs and footballs back and forth to relax. Many rode their bikes to work and into the building. That was just outside my office. Upper management was fine with that because the company was growing at 30% a year and there was plenty of work for everyone. That changed as the company continued to grow, and the empty spaces became offices and cubicles. Then, as the company was being sold to a large credit bureau over a 3-year period, the culture changed from a fun,  flexible work environment with a shared vision, to a strict, highly structured, and back-stabbing climate. The workplace culture changed from trust and collaboration to suspicion and fear of job-loss. Revenues decreased and layoffs started as the company spiraled downward, eventually to be sold off and folded into what is today Nielsen Claritas.

Infusionsoft – a good example of positive company culture

Infusionsoft’s offices in Chandler have an indoor football field (check out the pics on Google), basketball hoops, a weight room, a cereal bar (over 100 brands), and a special coffee room. They encourage employees to work off stress playing football and other games. Instead of a cafeteria, the lunch area includes a cereal bar (over 100 brands) and a coffee room.  It’s a very cool workspace which now houses nearly 450 employees. The culture is inclusive and built on trust. So, are the employees unproductive when they play football? Are they unproductive when they tweet and post on Facebook and LinkedIn? I don’t think so, since the company continues to grow, improve its product line, and deliver excellent customer service.

So when I see surveys like the one my friend shared, I view them as superficial. There’s a larger story behind them. I would be interested to learn your thoughts on this.

Social Media vs. Social Networking

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   March 19, 2014

Takeaways: Social media is different from social networking. Social media are the tools you use to communicate online. Social networking is the content you share to inform and communicate with your target audience.

What is Social media? How is it different from social networking? Think of social media as tools you use to communicate with your target audience.

Your mechanic uses tools to fix your car. You use social media tools to inform and communicate with your prospects and customers. They happen to be called Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,  and so on.

Social networking, by contrast, is the act of communicating using these tools. You do this by sharing content that is relevant and of interest to your audience. Perhaps it’s a new contest your company is sponsoring to get more likes on Facebook or to add to your email list. Or maybe it’s a post on LinkedIn announcing a recent promotion or success your company has had.

What you say and do using these social media tools and when you do this are key steps to building a following and engaging with your customers and prospects. Understanding who your target audience is in terms of their age, income, family status, and hobbies, and researching which tools they tend to use, help you determine the right tools to use at the right time.

Just as with traditional media (print, radio, TV), your customers and prospects are not watching TV, listening to the same radio stations, or reading the same publications all at the same time. You need to know what media they read, listen to, and watch and which times of day and days of the week are the best to reach them. The same is true for social media. Knowing who you’re trying to reach and when they will be online and which tools they will be using are critical components to having success with social media.

You can find a host of social media resources on our website to help you research and manage your social media strategy. And for tips about improving your own social media efforts, just click this link or fill out the form below. I’ll send you an email every 2 weeks with a key tip to help you improve your presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.