Working It!

One of our preferred methods of communicating with businesses is on Twitter. The reason is simple; if the company is social media savvy the response time on Twitter is much faster and more direct than an email or phone call. Why? Because of transparency. When a company says they are "customer focused" yet ignore consumers the promise is empty.  In other words their action, or often inaction, speaks volumes. However on Social Media, and in this case Mid American Energy CONVO USE August 2016Twitter, everybody has a peek at what is really going on.

Sometimes things happen that allow the cream to rise to the top (if you've never milked a cow you might have to go look that up). Sometimes big and small companies outperform and here are two examples.

Last week there was a power outage in much of Iowa due to storms. Here in the Des Moines Metro thousands were without power. MidAmerican Energy is the local provider and I've learned, over the years, to turn to Twitter for help and input. I mentioned we were without electricity in our part of the Metro and within moments help and advice came back from @Mid_AmEnergyCo. So I checked their Twitter Stream and found their social media team was responding with not only advice but empathy. Actual REAL PEOPLE were responding and showing concern.

You can read the conversation above and to the right. If you click on the image it will enlarge...start at the bottom.

DART Convo August 2016Then, later in the week, I rode a Des Moines Area Rapid Transit bus to the Iowa State Fair. The bus lacked air conditioning and folks were opening up windows on the ride from the Capitol to the fairgrounds. I sent a Tweet chiding @RideDart and within two minutes they responded and were on it...notice the second screen shot.

Bottom Line

It does not matter if you are a small business or a large corporation you need to know and understand that in the world today there are many ways to communicate and be transparent. Those companies who "get it" and respond with feeling, empathy and honesty will always rise to the top and I, as a business person, am proud to call them out and share with you why I support them.  It takes work and dedication from the part of the company but it is so rewarding for those of us who count on you for service...well done! 


DM Register Image


The Other Universe

I was visiting today with a company that has been in their space for over 60 years. It's a good Man Older Social Mediacompany and known nationally however their brand needs to be adjusted. Consumers and business professionals know them as something that there were...not what they are today.

So, how do you re-brand a business and make that brand reflect what it is today vs. what it was thirty years ago? Oh, and their budget is limited but they have lots of people working for the company.

I introduced them to "The Other Universe".  Some of us call it social media.

Trouble is they don't understand how to make it work. Sure, they have heard of social media and yes they have a Twitter account and a business Facebook Page however, as is the case with most businesses, it is anemic. 

How do we fix that?  We start with a plan. An honest to goodness written down plan of action to make all of this work.  In that plan we must write down what our goal is and how we will measure success. Oh, and one other thing; we need to outline exactly who our target is and how we will reach out.

All of that needs to be done before they hit the keyboard.

Any bets it will get done?

It better because, in that "Other Universe" businesses, who have not been in the game as long, are figuring it out and I wouldn't want my friends to lose market share to some upstart.




Yesterdays News

In the fast-paced world in which we live and with the myriads of information outlets available People Fast Pace Twodo you notice how fast yesterdays news gets forgotten?  Not that it was not important but people move on...quickly.

If you are a business and you are using social media to communicate with consumers doesn't it make sense to continue to drive your message...often and at different times of the day?

We think so and here are several tips to help you on the way:

  • Post Often - You work on your blog post and put it on Facebook and Twitter once. Chances are very few people will actually see what it is you took time to create. It is not bad form to re-post your piece several times during different day-parts; 
  • Mimic the Media - To that point start, on Twitter, to follow several news outlets. You will find they re-post news stories often and, in doing so, they change up the wording so that it is fresh;
  • Use Images - Doesn't matter if it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat make sure your image is included and the caption matches the image. It is more difficult with Twitter and 140 characters but worth it because the click through rate goes up;
  • Use a Service - We have used Hootsuite (there are others) for several years. It offers us the opportunity to schedule Tweets over a wide period of time. So we can send out the same story, with different words and sometime photos over various time periods and it takes just a few minutes;
  • Respond - If somebody likes what you are sharing make sure you respond with a "Thank you" or better yet feel free to ask a question about why they liked or re-posted what you have written.  Remember, social media is not just a broadcast tool it is about building relationships.

Five pretty simple tips that will help you boost your engagement.  After all, that is what we are all hoping for...right?



Engage Your Loyal Friends!

I know lots and lots of business owners that have lots and lots of "friends" on their various Friends Selfiesocial media channels yet they often complain they are not seeing sales match the number of people who are following them.

Wanna know why?

Because you have not ASKED for their help.

Follow along on this for a moment. It takes seconds to "Like" a page and maybe...maybe comment... Once done with that task many of your "friends" feel as if their investment is over. And you, and your business, racks up another "Like" which will do little to boost your bottom line.

How do you fix that?

  • Say "Thank You" - Don't ignore new "likes" or "friends" they may have liked your page but without you engaging them with at least a "Thank you!" they have little reason to champion your business;
  • Reward Your Brand Warriors - It doesn't take much to know WHO really helps drive your business. Which of your friends/customers continue to share positive messages about your brand to their friends. Then invite them to enjoy a free SOMETHING as a "thank you" for their help;
  • Have a Party - Want to jump start engagement?  If I had a retail business with hundreds or even thousands of "friends" I would invite the most active of them to the business for a party...just for them. Thank them for their work and give them a simple assignment to keep it up;
  • Personal Friends - Outside of social media you no doubt have know...folks you know well and often hang out with.  Don't forget them. They already like you so why not ask them to share their thoughts about your business with their friends?  The next gathering where you are together slip them a note with the "ask"...ask them to become brand warriors. Bet they will.

You can do all of this with a little effort that will pay huge rewards. Engage your "Friends" and they will help champion your brand.

You're welcome!




Share Power and Social Media

Let's say you have a business and somebody, on social media, writes something really positive Facebook Shares Image about what you do. Or, in this case, our Business News Broadcast does a long form interview with a business (Repinned) and following the radio interview we share the broadcast (as we always do) with our guests. 

What YOUR business does next will either extend your voice and market share or...not.

In this case our guests Riana LeJune-Copeland and her husband Justin made the decision to post to their Facebook Page, with some nice wording and then THEIR followers re-posted the link for their friends to see. The result: In less than 22 hours 13 people shared the interview, over 1,800 impressions and the downloads of the interview (because we keep track) was in the hundreds.

No fancy media buy, not a bunch of graphics and near zero cost...other than the time Repinned has spent in building their social media audience.

Three tips for your business"

  • Building Your Audience - In social media audience building takes time and talent. It's not like buying radio, television or print where you attempt to hammer home your message and HOPE somebody buys. This is about sharing and engaging and letting people in on your back-story. It takes time but in the end people actually feel CONNECTED with you and your business. 
  • Sharing Your Story - Why business people have a problem in sharing who and what they are is astounding to us. Hell, you want people to know you and buy stuff from you...right? With social media you have the tools at your fingertips to be able to do that...daily. Get busy.
  • One and Done - This is not about doing a post and walking away. It is about the message and extending the message. Had Riana not been paying attention to her Facebook Feed and simply posted the story would her followers have shared the message?  You must stay in the game...every day. go do it. If you don't know how ask for help. There are dozens of social media agencies out there. Pick one or, better yet, learn how to DIY and win.





Less is More with Laura Kinnard

The new Facebook Rule for sponsored links has made a change. They will no longer kick your ad Laura IOB 18 Jan 2016out if it has too many words or fonts or...whatever clutter you have on the ad. Laura Kinnard our Social Media Contributor spent some time with Facebook Blueprint and online learning tool to help business get more done on Facebook (Great idea by the way...)

Here is just a few seconds of our on-air chat about Facebook Blueprint and note...less copy is much better here or in any ad. Just click on the icon below.

Facebook Blueprint and Copy

Laura Kinnard appears each Monday afternoon in our segment on Networking Events and Social Media for Business.  If you would like to catch our long-form business interviews you can do that on iTunes or on our Podcast Page.





Tips on Scoring Earned Media

It is called “earned media” when you get publicity through promotional efforts. You know, the Earned Media Boy reporter shows up at your business and does a great job in sharing your message/brand/effort.  It happens every day right?

It does but the promotional effort has to be something amazing.

While you think your promotion is really cool and fun and interesting you need to understand media outlets get pitched all the time and they only have so much inventory.  And, remember, media outlets survive on “paid media” or advertising.

Some Tips on Scoring Earned Media

  • Think and Plan – Sure, sometimes a promotional event goes viral on its own but to get to that point there must be some serious planning. You must take into consideration not just “the event” but how it will play with the public. Will they get it and will it make for a good “news bite”?
  • Wacky Works – Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? It was wacky, different and fun. The ALS Association scored international media attention and even offered up Ice Bucket Challenge 2.0 in 2015;
  • Celebs – Hooking your promotional event around “a name” is always a great way to induce the media to your cause. Some celebrities will pony up their time because they have a relationship to the cause or event but you need to know not just ask;
  • Broad Appeal – Even though your promotion is meant to drive your brand the event needs to be broad enough to garner wide appeal. Otherwise media outlets will ignore you;
  • Social Media – If you fail to get social with your promotion hoping the media will carry the ball for you…forget it. At the same time if you are not NOW working social media for your business but ramp it up for one event…ain’t gonna work. You must be in the space before, during and after;
  • Keep Pitching - Once and done is not a good media plan;
  • Be Timely - If you can tie your event to something that is already hot or something that is starting to bubble up, so much the better; 
  • It’s Not Free – Getting earned media is not free. It takes time, talent, planning, execution and a relationship with the media. All of those factors cost money…
  • The Relationship – I can’t stress this enough…if you and your business has created a media relationship either through paid advertising or personal it is golden. Likewise if you and your business is already seen as a leader in your vertical so much the better.

The bottom line is that earned media doesn’t “just happen”

Now, go think and plan!


Please People - Go Mobile for Business

Last week I was traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (fit THAT on a business card!) and down one of the concourses I found something called Minute Suites.They Minute Suites are private suites that travelers can rent by the hour so you can catch up on much needed sleep, have a meeting, do some get it. Really nice idea and something that international travelers have seen for some time.

I wanted to learn more and, because I was traveling, I used my phone to dial up their website.

This is where the story gets difficult. Above you'll catch a screen shot of their website that popped up on my phone. Notice that it's not mobile friendly. To even attempt to read anything about the company you've got to "pinch and stretch" the screen.  

I took a moment and shot off a quick Tweet to @MinuteSuites complementing the idea and suggesting they might want to go mobile...because, and here is the irony...they are trying to reach travelers who are working their mobile devices but the company is making it difficult for consumers to engage.

Minute Suites TwitterI did get a reply and here it is: 

Kudos for the fast social media turn but what the heck is the Mind Body App? I don't want to know I just want to

My message is not to be mean...but your lesson, if you are still with me is this: You MUST know your consumer base and how they connect with your product/service and then do everything you can to boost their ability to engage you.

It matters...

Thanks for reading and, as always, dive in if you've got a comment.




Too Old for Social Media?

It happens all the time. Most recently I was at The Island Coffee Haus on Anna Maria Island (If Vacation 2016 crop useyou have not been, you must go!). I was working on The Business News Hour and using their Wi-Fi. I thought I'd shout out on Twitter and asked the owner what their handle was. She told me they didn't have one, yet, but they had Facebook and just started using Instagram. "We really need to get on Twitter but I don't know how."

I said, "Hey, no problem. If you want I can set it up for you and then link it to your Instagram account."  She said, "You know about social media?? I'm impressed that you keep up on that stuff."

It's the gray hair...

I mentioned that social media is just one of the tools we use for ourselves and our business, "It's what we do." I don't think she believed me...  

Hey, I offered.

Age bias and social media?  Sure. Because the platforms are new folks think the only people who can master the media are young people under 23.  Not so.  How about some updated social media tips?

  • Don't Marry Them - I'm talking about Facebook and Twitter because they are two very different platforms and methods. Tweets are here and gone in a matter of minutes while Facebook Posts linger and the audience isn't the same nor is how you communicate.
  • Blog Often - Beyond the engagement of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram there is the blog. This is an amazing tool to offer people the back-story of your business. Remember blog 3 times a week each week and keep it under 400 words.  Great for SEO by the way.
  • Hashtag Use - If you want to boost engagement check the #Hashtag for your particular industry and use it as well. #Coffee #BusinessLaw #Radio #IaWx (or whatever state) for weather. Find your industry and take part in the conversation. On our Business Broadcast Instagram account we use #CelebrateWorkers and post random shots of people doing their
  • Communicate - Ask questions, post surveys, ask for input. Remember social media isn't a one-way conversation or your private media outlet for sales.  They call is "social" for a reason.
  • Plan Your Effort - Have a plan for what you are going to share and talk about.
  • Video - Just use it!

Have more? Share!





Can Local Retail Compete with Amazon?

The information from the report is stunning. According to data compiled by Forrester Research… generated about 60% of total U.S. online sales growth in 2015 far outpacing the Amazon Logo competition.

The report found that the retail giant tallied $23 billion more in U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015 than 2014. Twenty-Three billion...dollars more in sales in just one year.  And that's not all...Forrester forecasts that U.S. e-commerce sales will grow to more than $530 billion by 2020, with more than 206 million shoppers spending money online. 

Is it any wonder that mall anchor stores and big box stores are closing so quickly. We have entered into a new economic reality and one that sends shivers down to spine of every small business retailer in the nation. Or, should it?

You see the report also offers some hope. The report goes on to say more than three-quarters of consumers (78%) say shopping on mobile devices is still hindered by things like slow download times and screen size. Your brick and mortar does not have that issue...right? And your optimized retail website allows people to access YOU with a call or email...from the home screen...right?

Chrissy JensenAnd, the report has several other suggestions on how to stay relevant in this new retail economy: "Retailers should offer unique merchandise and seek out new ways to monetize the business."

Now, if you want a lesson in how to offer unique how to monetize your business to a broader audience go see my friend Chrissy (photo) at Domestica located in Des Moines East Village. In my mind she does this better than just about anybody. Honest...