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“Where is The Future of Online Business –
Could Celebrities be showing mainstream business the way?”
Have Your Competitors ‘Caught On” and already Talking to Your Customers in this latest marketing evolution for Web Success? (And are they doing it Auto-matically and VERY Cheaply!) SO MANY Crucial Questions to answer… please read on.
The following Report is the Cover Story for “Australian Business Solutions” magazine“
YOU WILL DISCOVER HOW CELEBRITY MARKETING STYLES ONLINE LEAD ‘AUDIENCES’ TO WANT TO BUY RATHER THAN THE CONVENTIONAL BUSINESS APPROACH OF SELLING AND CLOSING. YOU WILL DISCOVER VALUABE, IN FACT ESSENTIAL INSIGHTS AND IDEAS THAT EVERY MARKETER, ENTREPRENEUR AND BUSINESS OWNER MUST NOW EMBRACE!”
(WARNING: THIS REPORT MAY FRIGHTEN YOU… IT WILL DEFINITELY ENLIGHTEN YOU!)
There is a buzz around on the television news, radio, in the print media, at business networking groups and meetings and especially on the internet right now. There seems to be a shift of focus for how people look for products and services and then decide how they spend their money.
In terms of influence and power, the new way people search for products and services and make their buying decisions online could even rival the search engines. And it’s been said that this buzz could be the single biggest thing to happen in business since the industrial revolution!
Sounds over the top, but is there enough evidence (for you) to be a part of it too? And is this buzz a fad or could it be here to stay?
If you’ve watched TV news or listened to radio or brought a newspaper in the past 2-3 years, you will have noticed references to websites in both stories and advertising, where you can find out more – including how to get more information about a product or service and/or how to buy instructions. In more recent times nearly every news presenter, TV show host, journalist and celebrity are also promoting how you can ‘follow’ their lives, interests and activities online too – and it all seems to be centred around websites such as Facebook.com, Twitter.com, YouTube.com, Digg.com and more, collectively known as Social Engines.
Celebrities are using these sites to raise their profile, build their brand and most importantly, solidify their popularity and [hopefully] longevity in their profession and industry. AND, these sites enable their audience (loyal army of fans) to talk directly back to them. And this is at the heart of the buzz and current shift – and why it’s so very important you read on and learn more.
On the Social Engine Twitter.com, Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres have more followers (fans) than the entire populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama. Their brand awareness and popularity building is personal, although as that increases, so too does their value to corporations looking for product endorsements to drive their market penetration and increase their market share.
Sporting stars like celebrities have broadened their talent base too, becoming more entrepreneurial and business savvy, seeing their name, brand and product value increase, in many cases, to a higher income level than the actual core sporting talent. In other words, acting, playing a sport, being a comedienne or whatever is their core talent is no longer their only talent. They have embraced the concept of brand building (and protection), marketplace communications and conversations – opting for direct contact via sources like online Social Engines. Here they can touch far more people quicker and easier than say a traditional autograph signing exercise.
A true business woman, leader and entrepreneur, celebrity Oprah Winfrey instantly connects and updates a loyal army of over 2 million+ people that follow her on Twitter. Her power and influence is no surprise or revolution in itself, but her army of followers are able to directly provide instant feedback and ideas to her too -and marketplace feedback is a life blood to your business growth and long term sustainability. (Try ignoring it and see where your business goes.) Everyone wants to be heard and Social Engines give you, your business and your customers a voice.
A loyal army of followers can also provide a viral effect to disseminate information quickly too, meaning they can ‘spread the word for you’ if you ask them to – this can be particularly useful if you want to spread good news and conversely if your brand comes under attack via other mainstream media mechanisms or on the Social Engines themself.
Although it might be hard to fathom, could celebrity entrepreneurs like these be showing more traditional businesses how to connect, behave, build our brand, increase our marketplace value and build our business too using these Social Engines?
Is this a valid idea and model for mainstream business or not?
Firstly, the power of Social Engines extends far beyond Twitter.com alone. Some of the other leading Social Engine sites sprout some pretty impressive visitor and member statistics, as well as services.
Facebook.com – If it was a country rather than a website, it would be the world’s 3rd largest after China and India.
On Facebook there are more than 250 million active users and more than 120 million of them log on to Facebook at least once each day and more than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide). The fastest growing demographic is 35 years old and older and within that, the fastest growing segment is 55-65 year-old females. Do people 35+ and women influence the buying decision for your products and services? This is worthy of your attention.
And there’s more… more than 1 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared each week on Facebook alone and more than 2.5 million events are created and advertised each month. More than 45 million active user groups exist on the site and more than 50 language translations of that content are available on the site. The people supplying all this content include business owners and professionals, some of whom are surely in your industry and probably your competitors. And if you think because you’re a localised business that this doesn’t count, you’ll find this statistic most enlightening- 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States.
All of those statistics are just for Facebook alone (source Facebook.com/press/statistics).
You can also purchase Pay Per Click and Pay Per Impression advertising on Facebook (and other Social Engines). They take your spend to a whole new level of value and ROI with their member data allowing you to display your adverts for keywords AND additional, specific demographics of the member base. For example you can display your advertising message to women, 55+ in Melbourne who are single. You can even target people specifically on their birthday with a relevant offer.
YouTube.com – take a look at YouTube (which is owned by Google for good reason) – People are watching hundreds of millions of videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, ten hours of video is uploaded to YouTube -including promotional videos, education, product consumption/direction videos and client testimonials for business. Plus every video you add to YouTube includes a spot on the webpage where you can put a link back to your website. PLUS you can add these videos to your blog posts, making them more interesting to your blog readers on other Social Engines too (more about blogs in a moment).
YouTube’s user base is broad in age range, 18-55, evenly divided between males and females, and spanning all geographies. Fifty-one percent of users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.
And could this be the good reason Google brought YouTube? It’s the 2nd largest search engine in the world today, 2nd only to Google.com. If you want to connect with your marketplace on volume, this is worthy of your attention.
Twitter.com – let’s take a statistical look at that quickly too. Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June with 83.1% of users over the age of 25. In July 2009, the Twitter website recorded 23,284,395 unique visitors – who else wants to be ‘front-of-mind’ to an audience of that size? Does your target market include people 25+? This is worthy of your attention.
Twitter has been described as the “Pulse of the Planet” given its instant, viral spread-the-word-to-the-world-instantly nature. It has boosted box office numbers and it’s killed them too, just ask the makers of the movie “Bruno” – overnight ticket sales dropped by more than half thanks to the frank and instant feedback from those that had just seen it. It was so quick too because 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices. People update anywhere, anytime – imagine what that means for bad customer experiences and you!
Do you let your customers walk away with a bad experience, only to stand out the front of your store or hang up the phone and blast their frustration and disappointment to hundreds, thousands maybe millions of people -in the ‘heat of the moment’?
The true power of Social Engines is not to be feared, it is to be embraced and when done well, you can influence large numbers of people in the ways you want them to know and represent you. This is worthy of your attention.
Understanding the nature of Social Engine participation is important and the question to answer is – What are people doing on these Social Engines? They are looking for ideas, insights, invites, offers, information, inspiration and conversation.
Savvy business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals are providing it all to them and at the same time, in a more passive or softer way than conventional advertising, promoting their business, building their reputation and ultimately getting more leads and customers to their web sites. These business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals are using resources within services like Facebook that include a Personal Profile Page, Business and Product Pages, Fan Clubs, Groups, Time-sensitive Events/Promotions, Classified Advertising (PPC) and more… and the really smart ones are sharing content direct from their website blog feed too (more about that in a moment).
Then there are sites like LinkedIn, a professional social network and directory of business owners and professionals who can communicate quickly and easily with one another. In a 2009 survey, 80% of businesses and companies who are members were using LinkedIn as a primary recruitment tool to find new employees. This is worthy of your attention.
On these Social Engines, people can say what they want about you and it’s uncensored. What do you do about it? Ignore it and hope the customers and prospects that really matter to you don’t see it? Should you take a proactive approach and start by monitoring what’s been said about you and then start providing your brand of information, insights, ideas and inspiration to your marketplace and control the information flow you want through them?
We are living in an era now where what happens in Vegas goes ON and STAYS ON YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and more.
“Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, WORD of mouth has become WORLD of mouth.”
Love them or hate them, social engines are here to stay simply because ‘the people’ love them and trust others on them. Facebook and MySpace are among the most popular destinations on the web. And even though they can be extremely annoying, there is one inescapable fact: the most irritating thing about Facebook is the 200m-strong army of people who use it.
And here’s the final enlightening point- Social Engine participation has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the Web.
SO Do you get involved or not? And if so, how do you do it easily and cheaply but still ‘play the game’ like a Celebrity with a 2m+ loyal army of followers?
The reality is that even if you’re not involved, your customers and prospects AND competitors probably are – and they’re talking to one another, perhaps about you and without you so the sooner you start, the better chance you have to becoming both a part of the conversation and then lead it.
The answer for businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals is automation – this is the single biggest break-through strategy and tactic that very few people have worked out, including many larger corporations who are successfully using Social Engines but they are not leveraged with automation, also known as things happening ‘auto-magically‘.
In many cases, businesses are employing specialist online staff on top of web masters and advertising/SEO experts. With automation, you can do a whole lot for very little extra time and virtually no money.
HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
At its essence or core are six words that will transform the way you generate leads and make repeat sales online – those words are YOUR WEBLOG FEED PLUS SOCIAL ENGINES.
A Weblog or blog as it’s more commonly known is a type of website or part of an existing website that allows you to add content as blog posts or articles and display them on your website – content like information, ideas, insights, offers, news, invites, images and more and you can create blog posts quickly and easily without ever needing to get a webmaster to do it for you.
There are over 200,000,000 Blogs online today and that number grows every day. Again, not all blogs and blog owners are equal, many are neglecting to include automation and leverage and integration with Social Engines so there are many nay-sayers about blogging, but that attitude is changing as more people are enlightened.
A Feed or RSS Feed as it’s more commonly known will distribute your blog posts well beyond just displaying them on your website. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates of your blog posts, delivered ‘auto-magically‘ via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email. Feeds also make it possible for your content (information) to be packaged into “widgets,” “gadgets,” mobile devices, and other technologies as shortened or full length messages, which Social Engines happen to LOVE. Your Feed makes it possible to display blog posts just about anywhere on the web or web connected device and most importantly directly to the millions of people online every day.
That means a Blog with an RSS Feed can ‘auto-magically‘ distribute information you create about you, your business, your products and your services quickly and easily across thousands of sites on the web. And you only have to create your pieces of content once!
A blog is a powerful code (invisible to the human, non-techie eye) and every time you add content to an existing or new blog post, like you would add content to a word document, it is distributed around the web in seconds and is fed directly into the biggest marketplaces and communities of people online every day.
What makes a blog with a feed even more powerful is that it reaches the biggest sources of people (leads) online – who by the way are not just using Search Engines anymore to find out about products and services, they are also using the “Social Engines”. PLUS your Blog Feed can also ‘auto-magically‘ update Google and Yahoo about your site too, so you still stay connected with the Search Engines for no more extra work, or money.
Now if you’re anything like me, when I first heard about these Social Engines, I dismissed them as not being a viable business and marketing channel because they appeared to be for personal networking and friendship (and they are indeed used for those reasons). Whilst many businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals are using these engines and winning new business – only a handful are doing it easily and quickly, because most of them do not know about the power of connecting your Weblog RSS Feed and how it fits in with using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg and hundreds more Social Engines.
In my own experience, I was wrong to not get involved with Blogs and Social Engines sooner (like many business owners and professional managers still are) as my competitors began to build an edge I did not have with my marketplace, simply because I did not understand and connect these two key points about connecting your blog directly to Social Engines. If you want to find new customers quickly and easily and build better sales from existing customers:
- Your website must be a Blog with a Feed and/or include one as part of your website
- Your online marketing mix and strategy must include sharing your blog post information with people on Social Engines like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg etc.
And here’s why…
Your competitors have possibly already figured out that social engines are where they can connect with people who include your customers and potential customers because the Social Engines are where your customers and potential customers are going online – and they’re going to these Engines regularly and for long periods of time. And people are making buying decisions based on the conversation they are having and the feedback they are hearing.
Even if you [believe you] have no competition, you’re not connecting with your marketplace as directly and as easily as you can, if you are not using the true power of Social Engines. These online sources or marketplaces attract people 24/7/365, who stay for a while each time. How could you NOT promote you, your business and your products and services there?
Every time you add content to your blog, it is circulated out to many Social Engines, once you set up a FREE account with them… people at these Engines who have an interest in what your business offers then come to your website to find out more.
Here’s an example of how your website Blog, its Feed and these Social Engines work together. (Note this diagram also includes the two largest Search engines -let’s not forget them. Using your Blog and RSS Feed, you can ‘auto-magically’ update them too.)
At the centre of this relationship are your website blog and its RSS Feed. Every time you add content to your blog, the Feed distributes it out to the Social and Search Engines with a link back to your website. People on the Social Engines instantly see a summary of your blog post and a link back to your blog/website. If they are interested in you, they click on the link and follow it back to your website to find out more about you and move forward with you.
“Although we like to feed information to the Search Engines for free listings, the Social Engines outperform them in providing INSTANT, FREE traffic (people) to your website… meaning Social Engines host millions of people live online at any given time who are exposed to your blog post instantly… and not only will they follow your link back to your blog/website if they are interested, they also have the power to make your Feed ‘viral’ – voluntarily passing it on to their friends who in turn pass it on… and so on.
The Social Engines and the people on them help you grow your prospect and customer base quickly, easily and cheaply – you can’t get any cheaper than free!”
The Social Engines are places where people go to and stay at; whereas Search Engines are places people only pass through ‘in search of’ a final site destination. This is the major difference and the significant extra power you’re missing out on if you are not involving your business in the Social Engines. Remember though, the Blog Feed is vital to ensuring your participation is mostly ‘auto-magic’ otherwise participating in them could over run your day, your week and your life!
The Blog Feed allows you to ‘auto-magically‘ update the Social Engines, minimizing the ‘air time’ you personally allocate to this.
So, who’s already taking this seriously and using Social Engines as a powerful, quick, cheap and easy tool and media to generate free leads quickly too?
Firstly, no matter your business, products and services, you’ll find prospects and possibly existing clients already participating in these sites on a regular basis. You are bound to find your competitors there too, it makes good business sense to be present on an Engine where millions of people congregate, converse and seek out people with the products and services they require – someone in your industry is probably joining them and being ‘front-of-mind’ and it should be you.
Everyone that gets it commits to it. These world-wide companies, brands and industry leaders have dedicated resources to connect and cultivate relationships with prospects and clients on the Social Engines with reportable, measurable results:
Motor Vehicle Industry: Chevrolet, Ford, General Motors, Honda
Travel and Tourism Industry: JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Luxor Las Vegas, Marriott International Hotels and Resorts, Carnival Cruise Lines, Hertz Car Hire
Sporting Teams: Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers, San Diego Chargers
Entertainment: 92Y, The Travel Channel, ComCast, Marvel Entertainment, Direct TV, Pop Caps, TV Guide
Finance: Wachovia, H&R Block, Intuit
Retail: Best Buy, The Home Depot, American Apparel, Rubbermaid, Whole Foods, Zappos.com
Food and Beverage: Starbucks, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Popeye’s Chicken, Tastidlite, Kraft Foods (see Vegemite Case Study below)
Other Global brands: Dell Computers, EMC and Kodak – all benefitting by directly connecting with their target marketplace – whether that’s existing customers and/or potential customers.
Kraft Foods have taken an interesting Corporation-Consumer collaborative approach to product promotion and development using Social Engines. Here’s what they say about their social engine strategy:
For many of our strong brands such as Vegemite – we acknowledged that we are simply (proud) brand custodians and that the brand is owned by ‘the people’. We focused our first two years of social engine participation on simply listening and asking questions.
Two of these questions were:
- How do you individually like your Vegemite?
- If there ever was to be a Vegemite variation what would this be?
Recently Kraft launched their latest product “Name me” a vegemite plus cream cheese experience. Here’s how they are using Social Engines to develop it.
“This is a work in progress; we spent two years listening and now with the product on shelves the Kraft Communications team is engaging with Vegemite loyalists and cynics alike on the 12 top social engines. They are engaging and getting samples out on and off line- and encouraging debate on the new products. There are a number of Facebook groups sitting in the following camps: pro original, pro new flavour and anti new flavour.”
This is just one way Social Engines are helping businesses already to grow brand, product and corporate awareness. There are many other ways to use it too that can and do lead to direct and immediate sales. No matter the size of your business and marketplace, Social Engines, like the internet at large give you a level playing field with industry leaders like Kraft Foods and the others mentioned here.
Your website with a blog and feed will provide regular content to the Social Engines ‘auto-magically’. You need to support that by also visiting the main Social Engines and engaging people on a weekly basis, as it forms part of your marketing, CRM and all the other pay-offs mentioned previously.
Adding content regularly to your Blog Feed, ‘auto-magically‘ keeps you in touch and front of mind to millions of people around the world, on the Social Engines (and Search Engines) so they can access your business, products and services quickly and easily.
The buzz appears to be more than a fad so for your business it becomes not a question of ‘if’ these Social Engines are going to be a valuable marketing tool for business. Rather, the question now is:
“How quickly will you get your business on the Social Engines
… to Capture Your Competitors Clients too?”
HOW TO GET STARTED
Here’s a checklist to help you get started with your new, exciting and FREE Social Engine Strategy:
1) Get a Blog website with a domain name of your choice OR if you already have a website, get a new sub domain or folder added called blog
2) Open an account with at Google, Feedburner, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, and LinkedIn.
3) Install an RSS Blog Feed and set up a Pinging list on it then add your Blog feed to the Search and Social Engine accounts you created in the step above.
4) Create content-rich education videos that can be added to your YouTube account and your Blog – that is then ‘auto-magically‘ added to your Search and Social Engine accounts.
5) Actively participate in or create new Facebook Groups, Events and Pages.
6) Make promotional videos about you, your business, your products, how you help and support people and upload them to your YouTube Channel then add them to your blog posts.
To really make this all work well for you, you need to know there is a big secret in succeeding with growing your business using Social Engines. You’ve read this far, so here it is: Social Engine success rest largely with you getting to grips with:
- Being a ‘face’ of your business and allowing people to connect with your ‘authenticity’ as a person ahead of a product, and
- the need to ‘listen’ to your marketplace, innovate with change to meet their ever-changing needs and then share information that will help them, rather than push product.
Millions of dollars are spent monthly with pay per click advertising on these sites and more millions are paid to ‘search engine specialists’ who supposedly help you reach number 1 ranking on keywords relevant to your business. It’s a fierce fight between serious players for top spots on search engines, both free and paid listings. An entire industry is built on it and around it. But you now know how to become a leader in your industry on the most powerful Social (and Search) Engines online today and how to do it Quickly, Cheaply, Easily and Auto-Magically.
In some cases, target market demographics may not be using Social Engines; therefore it would not be worthwhile. Consider these statistics when making your evaluation:
78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Do you rely on 3rd party endorsements to build buyer confidence? If this is not a necessary part of your marketing and sale process, you may be able to ignore Social Engine Marketing.
Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy – Listening first, selling second. Would your competitors be prepared to connect and listen to your prospects and customers directly to discover what they want, and then give it to them? If not, then you may be able to ignore Social Engine Marketing… and least for a little while.
The worst part is the first part. When you start, your ‘following’ could be small but that is far better than not monitoring what’s been said about you at all! The only way to change that is to get in the game!
Get started right now, before your competitors do -it’s the future of marketing your business online, because that is where the people you want as your customers are going online. It’s only a matter of time before someone in your industry emerges as the leader on the Social Engines – get you and your business front-of-mind first. Enjoy the experience and I’ll ‘meet and tweet you’ on the Social Engines of the World!