Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Power of "Suggestion" and How it Can Help Local Businesses and Economy

As social media marketing (SMM) becomes more mainstream and local businesses understand and embrace the power and value of this marketing, those local businesses can make a difference not only for their own bottom line, but in

shaping the local economy.

Think this is stretch?

I propose that to make a difference, we need to act in unison to create local virtual networks utilizing SMM. We cannot count on governmental policies, and we can't count on the economy to turn around of it's own accord. What we can count on is each other. The entrepreneurs and mainstream business owners of each town and region to work together in unity to find the clients and consumers each business needs locally. Our local Chamber of Commerce as well as yours is a fantastic resource, and in a way is a type of SMM. Join. Now. However, we also need to look to technology, which invariably connects all businesses in some way or another, twenty four hours a day.

We have the tools to do so in the various social media marketing platforms, and Facebook is the perfect example. While Tweeting, blogging, YouTube and other SMM will help increase brand awareness, Facebook is the most popular, and the most useful due to it's viral nature. Every day, another local business creates their Facebook presence, and is hungry to develop a following.

When you see a local business on Facebook, take a minute to try out some of the ways I have listed below to connect to them (remember to "LIKE" their page, first and foremost!), and as well help them connect to a new audience. Message the page owner and ask they do the same for you. SMM is ALL about communication and networking...use it! The combination of two business pages working together is extrapolate this out to dozens of pages and so on. Locally, you CAN make a difference! Not such a stretch after all.

Make it your mission to adopt at least some of the following ideas, and utilize them often:

1. "Suggest to friends" (and the new "Share" button) is paramount for local businesses wishing to help each other out. It quickly spreads the word about a business page and can turn into leads and potential sales for the receiving business. Don't forget to ask the page owner to return the favor!
There are two ways to "suggest", but in either case, be sure to mention to the people you are suggesting to, that they need to visit and "like" the page once there:
The "Suggest to friends" link allows you to pick and choose who from your friends list is introduced to the business. Typically, you would just choose all of your friends, but the choice is yours. For example, a friend in Toledo, Ohio may not care about a local nail salon. Or they may?
The "Share" button is to quickly post the business page to your profile. This is more permanent as this post remains on your wall (and in the "home" feed) until you delete it.
Don't do both, as it can annoy your friends! One or the other is fine, and is a matter of preference.
These links are found somewhere below the business page logo on the left hand side of the business page (there are two versions of pages right now, one where this is directly under the logo, another version where it is far down under the "likes" and "favorite page" avatars.)
2. If you come across a business page who made a post which may be relevant to your industry, "share" it on your profile page. It will show the source of the link (business page where you found it) as well as the link itself, which is clickable to your friends. Sharing interesting links or posts via "share" is a great way to connect. Not to be confused with the "share" above for sharing a page, this "share" is found right under the post, and JUST shares that individual post, not a page. For example, on My Tech Pro's page, I noticed a link that was right up our alley, having to do with Facebook:
I "shared" the post to my profile. So what we end up with is a shared link, as well as the page who originally posted it. This is a great way to help promote the page where the link was found, as well as help you find content for YOUR page:
3. Post on other's business pages! If you do none of the above ideas so far, at least do this. Every page owner LOVES to have people interact with their page. It helps them create content, and shows others they are involved. If you come across a great news article, post the link on their page with a simple "What do you think of this?" Perhaps you have a photo that is interesting, or just want to ask a question.
The point is not only are you helping make their page interesting, everyone THEY have as fans will see YOUR post, and may want to connect. It is marketing yourself. I guarantee after you make a few posts, you will get friend requests from THEIR fans. Work it, baby! Post, post, post. The more you post places, the more YOU are seen too!!

If you have other ideas, use #3 and post on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

13 and under please!

We hope you have more then one computer in the house because here are 5 kid friendly social media websites that cater specifically to children.

Legally children under 13 are not allowed on Facebook,Myspace etc so like everything else in the world someone has figured this out and created something to fill that void.

These social media sites are designed for parents and children to sit together and interact with the world and are also geared at educating your children. Like everything else it is recommended you research which site is best for you and your child.

For the article where this information was generated from click on the link below. Mashable is a trusted site that is favored for news about social media.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Facebook and Your Website

If you only have a website, and not a proper facebook business page, you are missing a vital part of your marketing plan! Websites are perfect for company information, showcasing products, news and giving the "facts" about your company. However, websites have always had their weaknesses.

Websites rely on being "found." Since each site has a unique address (URL) a person must actually type it in...if they even know it. Those unfamiliar with your URL may have to search for it via a search engine, adding another layer of complexity. As well, a visit to a website is "secretive." In other words, none of your friends know that last night at 8:45, you went to because you wanted to check out the latest pens. In the end, a website is a brand-driven, one way conversation from the company to the end user. It does very little to solidify customer loyalty or address the issue of social validity/trust.

In comes Facebook. Never before have we had such a Yin-Yang relationship for marketing your company online! Where a website fails, Facebook has it's greatest strengths. In tandem, they create a complete picture of who you are and what you do, but most importantly: exponentially spread this message from person to person.


Jimmy likes Bic pens and clicks the "like" button on Facebook. Jimmy has 245 friends that get instantly notified in their feeds that Jimmy likes Bic pens. They click on his "like" to see why Jimmy likes Bic pens and end up on Bic's facebook page. They see the company as friendly, open and engaging with it's fans. Maybe they get a special exclusive Facebook coupon for $1 off pens for a back to school promotion. They click that they "like" Bic and each of them has 245 friends that were just notified. Exponential.

Cross linking the two also helps increase search engine rankings. It is important to put a Facebook badge on your website, and as well be sure your website's URL is prominently listed on your Facebook page. This gives validity to both sites which search engines love to rank at a higher position.

Don't ignore the possibilities! Facebook business pages are more intuitive than ever, allowing experts in HTML (such as us :-) to even create custom tabs, shopping carts and more to truly customize your businesses page.

Your potential clients are out there. They may not find you how they did 10 years ago by a Google search. Go where they are. Facebook users spend an average of 55 minutes a day on Facebook and have an average of 13o friends. Doesn't it make sense to join the conversation?

Feel free to call or email us to learn more about how we can link your traditional online presence with social media marketing.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where did the name "Talking Finger" come from?

I have been asked before (several times): "Where did the name 'Talking Finger' come from?" The bank seemed to think we were a massage parlor and sent checks and business credit cards with the name "talking fingers", and more than once now I have had the middle finger given to me as a reference point. Or it could have been the way I was driving?

When Erik and I were deciding what to call our company, we were trying to work off of the idea that people now use (more than ever-and increasingly every day) their fingers to "talk" to each other. Text messaging, blogging, posting, all comes down to typing and clicking.

In this new world of communication, it is important to adapt your marketing to reach the people where they are. Facebook has 500 million users, Yelp now boasts 40 million, Twitter handles 90 million tweets per day...the numbers are staggering.

These platforms all have ways to market your business, but you have to get involved in the conversations to be successful. Simply having a Facebook business page is not going to suddenly create a financial windfall. Just like any marketing, it takes consistency and patience. In addition, utilizing social media marketing requires transparency, communication and a willingness to be fun. You must engage your clients and prospects. As well, it is not a vehicle to continually promote yourself. They can go to your website for that.

Think of SMM as a conversation you might have with a prospect over lunch. You'll speak a bit about business and what you can do for them, but you would probably also learn a little about their hobbies, likes and dislikes, and who they are as a person. This is critical to success in SMM.

People are "talking" with their fingers every second of the day. When will you join the conversation?

Bill DeRosa

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Quick History of Social Networks

The first recognizable social network site launched in 1997, allowed users to create profiles, list their Friends and, beginning in 1998, surf the Friends lists. In just little over a decade later, social networking has become a daily if not hourly routine for hundreds of millions of people.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Facebook Profile Security

Lets talk about Facebook security.

Have you ever clicked on a friend’s friend to see their profile? What have you seen…everything…nothing…or a little bit in between? Well there is a reason for that. Either they know how to navigate the Facebook privacy setting or they can’t figure them out or even worse…they just don’t care. If your clicking on someone’s profile page there is a good chance someone has done it to you.
So…how do you protect yourself from prying eyes? It is not as difficult as you may have expected.

In the upper right corner of your page click “account” then “privacy settings".

You will see this on your page. Your goal is to make a nice vertical row of dots down the right side under the "Friends Only Section".

You can click on "Customize Settings", which is found towards the bottom of the page to open a new page that allows you to pick WHAT can be seen by WHOM.

On that same page under the paragraph titled "Basic Directory Information" you will see “view settings” ...its small and it blends in so look closely. Once you click that link and you see the next page.

Those tabs on the right hand side are the tools you need to secure your profile. Click the drop down tabs and start to select WHO sees WHAT about you.

Facebook does allow you to view your profile as if you were someone else. By clicking on the “preview my profile” button you will be able to see how your profile looks to a stranger.

Here is what mine looks like minus a little photoshop picture removal of course.

Remember to check your privacy settings often. Facebook has had their share of hick-ups which has defaulted settings back to the original positions.

Plus with Facebooks recent additions like the check in feature "Places" you are responsible for selecting the most secure profile settings.

By securing your profile you are making sure the information you post is only seen by the people you want to see it.

Check out this link to a NY Times Blog article on how employers are using Facebook to check you out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad Reputation

This is not a post about the Damn Yankees song from back in the big hair band days, it's about you and your business.

For all the praise that brand advertisers have for social media, they must be aware that it’s very much a double-edged sword. Facebook, Yelp, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Twitter and Foursquare, platforms are used to help build an identity and a one to one relationship with your customers. But you must be careful…it can just as quickly turn on you and your brand.
Social media disasters occur for a number of reasons, the first being that your company probably made a mistake. It may not have been intentional, but something somewhere went wrong just enough for someone to complain. One mistake is all it takes for social media to turn against your brand.
No one is perfect and you can’t expect to please everyone all the time, so the best trick is to be prepared for how to handle things if your company finds itself under attack in the social realm…and that is where Talking Finger comes in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foursquare and the psychology of "checking in"

Very brief but interesting article I came across regarding how apps like Foursquare create a buzz and increase awareness about a business by marketing it correctly. Leveraging this type of SMM is going to be increasingly vital for businesses to stay ahead of the competition and grab more market share.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Inbound Marketing: The Heart of SMM

Does anyone remember the old Faberge shampoo commercials? "And you'll tell two friends...and so on..."

SMM is built upon the idea that if someone knows about your business, they will tell a friend. Except that they are telling hundreds, sometimes THOUSANDS of friends about your business in a matter of seconds. Their friends are now looking for your business, and all without you having to intercede or be involved. This is a general description of inbound marketing. People finding your business based on referrals, reputation, and presence.

This is the very heart of smm. Social networks of people forming "marketing teams" to advertise your business for you based on their experiences. Compare this to outbound marketing whereas a business looks for prospects and clients/consumers actively through traditional sales methods such as cold calling, print ads, radio/tv and trade shows.

Shampoo teaches about smm:

"And you'll tell two friends...and so on, and so on..."

Social Media Marketing

What is Social Media Marketing...
it's the 11 on the control knob of marketing.

Social media can be apps, websites, blogs anything that allows people to connect and share information in real time. It's an interaction between you and the world in a digital is the new Word of Mouth advertisning.

Social networks like Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn, to name just a few, allow users to and have a presence globally which they use to communicate, purchase items and validate products and services.

From a business owners prospective, social media marketing takes that user base of people and turns it into a two way conversation, a conversation between business and consumer. The interesting thing about social media is the connection starts with the user connecting to a business, a 180 degree spin on the way business connected to consumers in the past.

Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, Youtube are 4 of the most popular networks that are in thier infancy for tapping into this social media explosion. Whether it's rewarding customers for purchases, sending them an email for writting a nice review about your business or posting a "how to" video about your product, social media's potential is just starting to be realized. "These go to 11"

Reputation and Reputation Management

There are basically three types of reputation management:

1. Creation and building. In the infancy of a company, or perhaps their infancy in smm, creating and building a reputation has to do a lot with the initial communications with the world around them on social sites. Being proactive and transparent is paramount. It also takes time.
2. Maintenance. This is the continuation of the above type, and comes with time for most businesses. Some businesses are lucky enough to already have a great reputation either within smm, or because of their known history, so sometimes this ends up being the starting point.
3. Reclaim. Here is one of the most overlooked aspects of smm. Some companies fear smm irrationally due to the chance someone will publicly post a negative comment. In actuality, people always did. The company just never heard about it! In the wold of smm, a company now has a chance to address a concern publicly. This transparency is a tool to be used to actually turn a negative into a positive. People want to be heard when they are dissatisfied, and acknowledging them speaks volumes about how you do business. This in turn allows others to trust in your product or service.

Historically, it was difficult for companies to assess their reputation. Many prospects or clients/consumers were lost without the business ever knowing. With today's tools, a proactive involvement, and an open mind, it is quite possible to increase sales by simply being honest and forthright and most importantly listening to your market.

Transparency in SMM: How it works for your business

Social media is a great opportunity for companies to represent themselves as real people and build real relationships to others. It is the very essence of smm. Prospects and clients/consumers look to companies for openness, communication and most of all accountability. This is known as transparency. They want to know that if someone has an issue, that a company is willing to stand behind what they are selling and communicate with that person.
Let's take Facebook as an example. Companies who do this well will leave a negative comment up on a wall on facebook and address the issue by directly communicating with the poster and working to resolve the issue. This is a brilliant hint of how that company cares about the product or service they are putting out into the public domain for consumption.
A company which fails at this would delete the comment. This leaves an incredibly sour taste in the mouths of those following a company, because they are no longer being transparent and working to resolve an issue. They also forget that the thousands of other fans have already received notification of the post that was deleted.
Prospects, clients and consumers want the truth. They want to trust the businesses they are going to spend money with. Building that trust through transparency is an important piece of the puzzle in your success in smm.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Media is the "New Marketing Tool"

I have been fortunate to work with various marketing tools so far in my life. I enjoyed the results I achieved with print advertising campaigns I used to run for clients in weekly and daily papers and also magazines. Direct mail was challenging as well once you knew how to target effectively. Those two mediums are similar to radio and TV ad’s in the way you “cast a line” and hope to catch a customer. Radio, TV and newspaper are all taking a beating financially because the public is starting to realize that "hoping" a potential customer sees or hears my ad is not the way to get the message out anymore.

I first used social media, like everyone else, I found old friends, played games, etc…then I realized the power it has over traditional media. Instead of casting a line and hoping a fish takes the bait, social media marketing is like having someone put the fish on the line for you. People are connecting to business on their own, they also take time to voice their opinions and post reviews about their favorite or new found places…it’s the new word of mouth advertising that used to take time to build and now it virtually happens overnight.

I have been seeing that companies are slow to embrace this new medium and it is due to not knowing what it is and what it can do for them. There once was a time when no one had a websites but now everyone has one. This new medium is in its infancy and will continue to grow as the younger generations have at their fingertips the ability to retrieve your information, a place where they get validation about you from their piers.

Social Validation

Social Validation is the psychological phonomenon that occurs when buyers in ambiguous situations who do not have enough information to make decisions independently, instead look for clues like popularity, trust, and reccomendations, as well as how a company reacts to negative feedback. It has always been a factor in the decision making process, but before social media, was a guess for companies at best. With today’s tools, it is possible to use this to a profitable advantage.
Think of it this way: when people are ready to purchase a service or product, most often they ask people they know about that product or service to get their input. In the past, this was done with with the business never knowing or having a say. New smm tools such as Facebook allow a business to now get directly involved in this conversation. As well, tools such as Google alerts makes it easy for a business to get notification instantly if their product or service is being discussed.

Can I implement social media marketing internally?

For a business wishing to start their foray into social media themselves internally, they should sure to be able to allocate resources to this. SMM requires immediate response and continualy updated information. Not sustaining it properly and consistently keeping your audience interested, educated and involved can actually turn both prospects and clients off to your brand.

Internal marketers must understand how to compliment the various forms of smm (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, enews, etc) so they work together as one cohesive marketing plan. Having too many messages across several platforms makes it confusing to their audience. While the platforms are vastly different between smm tools, integration becomes easy with experience.

As well, marketers should be trained on how and what to post up on smm networks. How to answer a negative review, or thank people for a compliment in a personal way but in full representation of the company's image. These are no longer the days of creating a newspaper and letting it fly. The interaction smm demands, requires people of personality and patience, as well as creativity since they will be the spokesperson for your business.