17 Visions of Tomorrow’s Social Media Landscape

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How can we possibly predict what the future will look like, so we can better prepare today for the realities of tomorrow? That is the question asked by Peter Kozodoy in a recent piece for Inc. Magazine. But it is an every day question posed by Social Media Managers, what with regular Facebook adjustments being constantly added or the constant one-upsmanship battle escalating between Instagram & Snapchat.

Kozodoy asked 17 of the world’s most prolific super-influencers for sage advice and prognostications; though varied there was one recurring theme. Catering to the consumer’s needs in the places that he or she expresses them will be the key to your client’s success in converting them into customers.

When I started this blog my message was that small businesses had to be on social media, because if they weren’t they could not hear the comments & complaints being transmitted by customers. Now just being “on” is not enough. You need to actively find where your customers are and engage them there on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Don’t expect them to come to your website or store on their own.

Point in fact:

Mobile phones, search, and social media have changed shopper paradigms forever. Today, shopper’s have unique paths to purchase tailored to their lifestyle. This has had a profound impact on how, when and where consumers engage with brands.” — Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Acting CMO of Brand Innovators, and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path

Location, location, location:

Brands that will thrive in the future are those that are able to hyper-target their messaging based on identifiable social and geo-locational triggers using immersive marketing campaigns and augmented reality scenarios to engage and influence buying decisions.” — Douglas Idugboe, Co-Founder, Smedemy

Very interesting to see what “big names” like Mari Smith, Jeff Bullas and Jay Baer had to say. Their comments and Peter Kozodoy’s wrap-up conclusions are a good read for all Social Media Managers that want to put their clients ahead of the competition by already being today where the customers will be tomorrow.

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Social Media By the Numbers at Enterprise Center

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One of the major problems that Social Media Managers have when dealing with their clients is the distorted levels of expectations about ROI (return on investment… of time and money) by the clients. Social Media is not an over night wonder pill. If only the merchants of Main Street USA could understand the statistics, or as we call them the analytics, by which SMM gauge progress, engagement, results, and forecast “their next move.”

We on the North Shore are fortunate to have an organization such as the Enterprise Center at Salem State University which plays a pivotal role in helping foster the growth of small business by offering an interactive speaker series, not by teachers but by individuals who are in the trenches living the subject matter everyday. Case in point, this Tuesday I attended a session driven by Justin Miller on Understanding Social Media Analytics.

Miller, the guiding force behind the dynamic InnoNorth community start up, brought his expertise to a packed room of the curious and functioning business owners who want to understand social media from the numbers angle.

Miller was ready from the start to give everyone pause:

“Understanding your social media analytics is essential for businesses today, but it isn’t easy when no two platforms are measured in the same way.

There’s a difference between knowing what metrics mean and knowing which metrics are meaningful.”

I won’t go into the class particulars; Miller did it a lot better than I could explaining where to find data and how to understand it before applying it. Another class will be given in the fall. You can sign up for it then.

My point is whether you handle the social media campaign for your small biz or you hand it over to a “big” firm or local boutique social media manager (those are the ones I write blogs, posts and tweets for), it’s in your best interests to understand that the numbers by themselves don’t represent the picture of your business.

You may not have the time or skill to do A/B testing, or know the difference between impressions and likes, but taking a class or two at an educational presence such as the Enterprise Center which brings in top notch lecturers like Justin Miller is a way to understand and be able to work with the SMM to help your small business better engage with your target market community.

(And a personal P.S.to Abby Grant at the Enterprise Center, thanks for the excellent customer service in squeezing me into the class at the last minute!)

Small Biz Growth– With a Little Help from Friends in the Marketplace

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Small businesses in small towns across America are fighting for survival.

But, getting to know the people and small businesses of Wabash Indiana, winner of the Small Business Revolution’s Main Street $500,000 Makeover has been a heartwarming journey, filled with hope and promise when all players in the marketplace come together.

wabashcityFor this makeover, Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe, along with Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, employed their marketing and business expertise to help six small businesses learn more about what it takes to compete in their local and regional markets.

What is additionally important is that you look at the website that accompanies this series. There is a breakdown of each store’s problems and solutions, complete with actionable advice that could be applied to your business. In other words: Free social media marketing advice!!!

The full details of the project are in my previous blog. Here are the eight episodes so you can binge watch. Do you see any similarities to you, your business, your neighborhood, or town? Learn from the Wabash journey; take from it what you can. Then make your story something worth sharing with others.

(Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Your Blog Intro Paragraph, Setting the Correct Hook

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Introductory paragraphs are fishing trips ripe for disaster; launch yourself using the wrong hooks and lures, and you’ll lose all the fish before you get to the end paragraph.

reelingAn early blog of mine covered this topic and I thought it was time to repeat it for those of you small business owners who are piloting your own blog along the internet waters.

Noted social media influencer Jeff Bullas had recently outlined several literary devices to enhance the enticement and engagement levels of a blog’s first paragraph. I, in turn, shared insights on three of them, based upon my own over 30 years of experience as a print & broadcast writer.

Why not start with a question?

  • I’ve found asking a question to be among the most intriguing openings. By posing a question right away, you drive readers to start thinking; you challenge them to come up with an answer, an answer that lies beneath the waves of paragraphs to come.

Just the facts ma’am

  • On the other hand, years of writing experience have led me to accept statistics and percentages as the most difficult hook, because if done improperly you turn off readers and they swim away. (Bullas dressed this up by suggesting you attribute the facts to a person, thus making the numbers come alive).

To “quote or not to quote”

  • I’ve used quotes as teaser openers in my blogs, articles and columns many times over the years. Find something catchy that your interviewee recounted or advised that relates to your topic in such a way to set the mood, while at the same time “giving away” the sense of what story you are about to tell.

Metaphor.

  • This is an additional option I would suggest; in fact I employed it to kick off this blog. It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

This option, as do all the others mentioned, set the readers off into a thinking mode, anxious to read on.

And that is the goal of the first paragraph, isn’t it?

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Pokemon Go – How To Lure in Customers to Your Small Biz

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Hula Hoops, pet rocks, Cabbage Patch Kids. Fads come & go. Even the big ones. But Pokemon Go has the added element crucial to your small business that none of the rest had: exterior exploration. The others were played by oneself, in a room or backyard. Pokemon Go takes the player away from home, usually with a partner, walking down the street and past your business.

This gives an entire new meaning to “foot traffic!”

Pokemon Go pixAnd that makes it more than a game. It’s a dynamic marketing opportunity for your Main Street USA brick & mortar store.

Walter Chen just days ago wrote a solid tutorial on the INC website (Pokemon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses. Here’s How It Works) as to understanding, and therefore controlling the madness that is Pokemon Go— with the end result being the conversion of Poke-chasers walking past your store into paying customers walking into your business.

In detail he first describes the game, so even non-player Baby Boomer owners on down to Millennial owners with no interest in Pokemon can grasp the parameters within which players operate. This is important to determine how players can be enticed (manipulated?) to alter their “programming” of chasing Pokemon exclusively and instead take a break to purchase your products or services.

Among his recommendations are:

Find Out if Your Business Is a Gym or PokeStop

First move should be to determine if you already are a PokeStop or Gym. These attract foot traffic without any effort: “Players flock to them for rewards and to battle other players- and they can be leveraged for massive sales if you know how,” states Chen.

Sit Back, Throw Down a Lure, and Enjoy the Show

What’s a lure? It is the key to increasing the rate of Pokemon generation for a half hour in the area around the PokeStop. Very important to stopping the foot traffic at your door while players wait for Pokemon to come to them. For example a local biz owner revealed “I own a pizzeria that’s a PokeStop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.”

Capitalize on Your Business Being Near a Pokemon Gym

If you are neither a PokeStop nor Gym (where captured creatures do battle against other players’ creatures) then let people know through outside signs and mobile social media that you have related specials, giveaways, etc. You may not know when a group of French tourists or Vegans are coming down the street, but you will know that foot-tired, thirsty Poke players are nearby.

Or, Go Where the Pokemon Are

Chin discusses more points, including delegating to one of your staff the duty of tracking where Pokemon are being heavily found in your community and then devising a way to get your business there (for example if a local park is a hot spot, can you get a food booth or truck out there on a Saturday or Sunday if your small biz is a restaurant or bar?)

As I said, Chen’s article is a thorough primer for the uninitiated to learn and capitalize on a hot fad that may not be leading customers into your store, but at least past your door.

Chin advises “With Pokemon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.”

Gotta Catch ‘Em All? The challenges and opportunities for customer engagement await you.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Monday, Monday — And All Those E-mails

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Had a nice weekend? Didn’t look once at your small business e-mails? Now it’s Monday and you dread the minefield of unwanted communique’s that have been dropped into your small business account? You need to address real customer issues. Here’s a quick way to identify and neutralize: use your e-mail’s search option to unsubscribe! Courtesy of Staples.

Quick, wasn’t it? It’s ok, you can watch it again, considering all the time you just saved in having to “search & destroy” these. Now you can focus on the real e-mails from customers that pertain to your small business.

Making Small Business Saturday Work For You

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Small BizLJust hanging a sign in front of your store, announcing to the world that you are a small business, will not automatically encourage a flock of shoppers to swarm your shelves and counters this weekend on Small Business Saturday. But it will let customers know that you are part of a movement that is looking to alter the “business as usual” Business to Consumer model.

The “conversation” has moved away from the merchant putting a product or service up for sale with the consumer having to take it or leave it. Through social media, customers can share what they like or don’t like about not only what you sell but also how you sell it.

Small Business Saturday affords you the special opportunity to be available that day to chat, mingle, interact and yes, sell to YOUR current AND potential customers.

As Connie Certusi reported in a recent www.entrepreneur.com article “88 million people have shown up to ‘shop small’ since 2010.”

That represents a lot of shopping power to tap into. More than enough reason to make yourself available that day.

Therefore, I see Small Biz Saturday as not just a day of bargains and fun. It’s also a serious day to cement long term relationships. Use social media to not only invite the public, use it during and afterward to gauge their reactions to you & your business. Use social media, don’t be used by it.

In fact Certusi mentions social media in her suggestions of “10 Ways to Prepare for Small Business Saturday.”Key among them are:

  1. Prepare your website
  2. Prioritize customer service
  3. Make your website mobile-friendly
  4. Don’t ignore social media
  5. Advertise online

Certusi hits the mark with her comment that “Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for small retailers to gain exposure, capitalize on increased sales potential, and foster a sense of community.”

If all you do on Small Business Saturday is hang a promotional poster, it’s no different than filling your Twitter & Facebook posts with self-indulgent sales content with no effort to interact or give value to readers. It’s not a day to stand behind the counter. Mingle with customers, give them a reason to emotionally invest themselves in your vision for your products or services.

Use Small Business Saturday as a launching pad to show how your business can better serve customers than the big ones. And then let your customers spread the word all year long.