Archive for July, 2009

Why is Transparency important in social media and social networking for business?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

transparency in business, transparency, trust, social media transparency, social media consultants

Everywhere I go lately i hear the talk about transparency. Maybe its that government should be more transparent, or business leaders and executives should be more transparent. One thing i know for certain that the MORE transparent you are in social media and social networking, the more this enables you to connect to many more great people with “similar interests” to share ideas. This is exactly what happen to me with twitter. I am 90% transparent on twitter (i doubt people want to know everything i do but i do tweet quite a bit) because i know that someone is listening and can perhaps connect with me on a similar level. Right away we can establish a connection, a friendship, and this creates a relationship.

Social networking for business and social media is all about connecting with like minded people facing similar challenges or opporunities to brainstorm, strategize, and share knowledge their interested in for the common good of the community. Being transparent in business is especially important in todays times after the financial meltdown, Enron, Madoff, etc. The list goes on with how many companies affected the lives of many people with their poor decision making. That is why i suggest that companies need to be more transparent, and by embracing social media and social networking this allows companies to get back to business basics and get our economy back on track by engaging in conversation first before selling/ marketing/ advertising to consumers. Us consumers are sick of being bombarded by spam, direct mail, telemarkeintg, etc.

A model example of transparency is the recent Zappos acquisition by Amazon. The CEO Tony has embraced social media and social networking and created the “culture” that companies can only dream about. Typically companies hold onto information and don’t want to share about what makes their company so great. We take the opposite approach. We want businesses to embrace social networking and social media for business development purposes and we have been teaching them how for the last 8 months and have been very transparent about our business model. Our investors may frown upon this a little, but it has worked and gotten us this far. We have seen the huge value in building a community around our services. The community on twitter and linked-in have been great feedback mechanisms for us in our start-up. We will see what happens in the near future as companies start getting on board with social media for business and Social Networking San Diego will be here when they are ready for a plan, strategy, execution, training, and consulting along the way in their social media journey.

Any feedback on this?
Thanks
Justin
CEO Social Networking San Diego
Want to speak to me directly? 760-576-GOLF (Google Voice)

Is your business ready for a social networking campaign that works?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

career-logos

The internet has become the most talked about medium of communication. It is the quickest way of launching an advertising campaign and you will find that customers and audiences can interact with the campaigns almost directly and instantly. Social networking campaigns and social media agencies are now making a lot of money utilizing this social marketing boom to its fullest. But are they producing ROI? Are they producing results? Here are some of our case studies here for some recent campaigns we ran: (click here)

Connectivity and engaging with people is the most essential feature for social networking campaigns to gather momentum and keep going. If there is no interaction, social marketing campaigns fail to perform up to the expected levels and do not go viral. Marketing efforts over the social media have seen positive as well as negative impacts with larger audiences.

Addictive and viral campaigns often catch the public’s attention sooner, but blow out faster if they do not interest and engage the customer. Designing the proper online marketing strategy is like a science, with many variables.

Take the case of Facebook. This social network is more of a communication between friends, colleagues and relatives that has becomes very tough for the marketing community to monetize. The majority of Facebook users do not like the marketing advertisements that pop up as it causes a distraction to users who are more interested in chatting with long lost relatives and friends.

The world is going tech savvy and by the year 2015, nearly half of all purchases will surely have some web-based element in them. The purchase could be offline or online, it does not matter at all. It could merely mean that the customer is reading or browsing for a new product on a blog, website, then reading news updates and simply comparing prices of the product online or through a networking site. But almost all sales will be related to the internet.

Social networking campaign specialists like Social Networking San Diego can utilize social networking campaigns and ensure good word of mouth sales for their clients chosen products. Just getting people to talk about the product is not enough. You have to clearly define whether the existing technology is sufficient or whether you should focus on discussions, videos, voting, PPC, etc. to promote your product. Companies big and small can take part online now and develop social networking campaigns and strategies to promote their business whether a product or service based business, we can develop and implement your social media marketing campaign the right way.

Ready to get started? Get a FREE Website Evaluation and see where your website ranks compared to your competitors now (Click Here- FREE Website Evaluation)


Does your business have a social media strategy in place yet?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

internet-pizza, internet-puzzle, breakdown of the internet

After completing another one of our weekly social networking and social media 101 Webinars today, I realized just how ahead of the curve we and a few other social media marketing firms are. Prospective companies are SCARED of social media and its mostly the upper management who have been so used to conducting “business as usual” but i assure you that the game has changed. Companies need innovative techniques, better strategies, and word of mouth referrals for their products and services instead of just the same old email newsletter. Now don’t get me wrong, social media marketing isn’t the end all be all, but its the start of something big that larger corporations (some big brands are already doing it) are getting into, but what about the small and medium sized businesses? This SMB market is where we have been helping out lately and i can safely say that its a lot of work and can be draining at times. The thing that keeps me going though are knowing just how many small and medium sized businesses are hurting right now so i try to tailor a proposal that fits around their budget. Its the least i can do instead of turning away their business completely because they don’t have a budget. Or i suggest them to take some twitter 101 for business training or linked-in training which we teach business development teams how to use these tools for lead generation purposes.

To cater to the growing needs of individual business owners, (we are getting a HUGE amount of inquiry from this part of the market and want to help them) I am working on an internet coaching 8 week fast-track to social networking program taught by myself and my VP Keith. Is their anything in particular you would like to see in there? How much do you think would be a reasonable cost for an 8 hour course? Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and YES we will have an affiliate sign up for you to help promote this and make some extra CASH!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone,
Justin

Need a social media strategy for your business? Call Keith our VP at 760-500-6043 and schedule your assessment today

What can twitter do for you?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Twitter 101 for business has been the hot topic lately, after twitter announced its twitter 101 for business guide. I was kind of shocked they didn’t mention many other business people who have been contributing to the twitter for business movement so I wrote an email or “tweeted” a blog post over to founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams (Click here to view email to twitter founders) to express my views. I don’t mean any harm by it, i just want to be sure credit is given where credit is due.

So if you are still a business wondering how to use twitter to grow your business, or use social networking for business, this video will help put it in much simpler terms. Think of it as “what can brown do for you” like the UPS commercial only with a twitter spin I did “what can twitter do for your business”

Let me know what you think, Thanks
Justin

p.s. Need weekly twitter 101 for business training of your business development department? Sign up here: Twitter 101 for business training

Business thoughts on the Zappos Acquisition by Amazon

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Instead of my normal posts on social networking for business and social media consulting, I wanted to briefly mention some thoughts on the recent news announced today on Amazon acquiring Zappos for a whopping $850 million dollars.

First off, I want to post the Core Values that makes Zappos such a great company:

Zappos Core Values

As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the Zappos core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble”
(pulled from http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values )

Next watch this important and educational leadership video of Jeff Bezos:

Now here is my opinion:
After watching Amazon grow and remain through the .COM bust, one thing is certain: They pride themselves on great customer service and obsess over this fact. They have innovative technology, and have done very well and I think it was a smart strategic move on their part.

Zappos too prides itself on customer service, transparency, and most importantly passion. You always see this demonstrated on a regular basis the passion that flows from top down and bottom up throughout the organization. I have been hearing especially lately from twitter on the amazing culture among employees at the firm and the #1 factor (and most important to me) I believe in why they were acquired because they are one of the top companies embracing social networking and social media (especially twitter and many other social tools) and leveraging these tools better than 95% of other firms to better service customers. Why? Because look at the CEO Tony. He is a model Social CEO who embraces social media so easily because it fits EXACTLY with their core values & will be a model for many other companies to follow.

My predication is that this is only the beginning of whats to come from other firms embracing social media as part of their business, marketing, and corporate strategy cohesively. I have a feeling (and has already started happening in San Diego) our TEAM of consultants will be helping some of these large local firms make this transition into becoming more “social” firms for the benefit of “engaging” customers more instead of just “marketing” to them all the time.

Your thoughts?
Thanks
JustinRFrench
CEO Social Networking San Diego

Top 5 lessons learned in the trenches of social networking for business and social media consulting

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

in-the-trenches-of-social-media-for-business, social media for business, social networking, social marketing, the social ceo
Many business and marketing people keep talking about social media and social marketing and how businesses can get into this new online marketplace, but I have some actual non-theory lessons from ACTUAL consulting on about 12 client projects we have worked on over the last seven months.

Social Networking for business
is hard stuff. You have to be both technical, psychological, sociological, business savvy, marketing savvy, sales savvy, a good communicator, good writer,…… The list goes on. 1 full time employee or college intern handling social media marketing will not cut it I guarantee it.

My TEAM (together everyone achieves more) of Business consultants and I have been doing workshops, tweet ups in Carlsbad, tele-seminars, conference calls, coaching, training, blogging, strategy building, assessments, webinars, and consulting on social media and social networking for business for the last 7 months. (I have been doing various business and technical consulting for about 10 years)

I remember my first blog post on how i predicted that social media and social networking will save small business and STILL stand by that prediction and remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember each and every client experience, where WE went wrong, and what changes we made in our “process” to improve. I must say right off the bat that I could NOT be in this “Social CEO” position with out my twitter network. I learned more on twitter in 2 months from just listening, paying it forward, and helping others achieve what information, resources, or knowledge they cared about which in return they taught me what I needed to know to help formulate Social Networking San Diego. Consider it a PHD in internet marketing from twitter for FREE just 20 days a month on-line till 4am investing my time (video proof here).

I laugh at the colleges now trying to charge thousands of dollars for certificate programs for social media marketing and internet marketing (even Masters Degrees) when all people would have to do is just apply themselves a little bit, spend some time doing internet research, and start LISTENING! Also, we are in a HUGE recession, and colleges are in fact a BUSINESS too trying to stay on the trends and make MORE money off students. But I digress…..

Here are some tips about what to be careful of in the trenches of social media and social networking consulting for businesses:

1. ROI– If they ask you “what will be my ROI”, ask them, “what is your CURRENT ROI on marketing/ advertising?” Tell them to give you a fraction of that (at least 10%) show them some results in the first quarter or six months, and then ask them for a larger budget (if you can perform)

2. Don’t under charge– Your time is valuable, and just because they might not see the REAL value in social media and social networking for business development purposes and lead generation, you still want to attract the clients who have a “perceived value” in social media. This can be hard, but where are you looking??? Our first couple accounts we did FULL SERVICE for less than 1000$/ month AND worked on these accounts probably 80 hours per month. Talk about hustling! And you know what, they left because they didn’t want to “spend the time” in social media because they were too impatient and wanted overnight success. And they felt the training was something an intern could do. Do you really want an intern handling your corporate message and controlling your brand perception online???? Let me stress to you that being in the trenches now for 7 months, this will require your client to commit to 9 months to 1 year to make it worth your time. That is if you provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to social media and social networking for business. This is VERY time consuming and a lot of work I assure you but the BEST practices approach for building a lasting community around your client’s products and services.

3. DON’T DO PAY BY PERFORMANCE– Do you like working for free? I sure as hell don’t, and we tried that and learned NOT to do it again! On a few clients, we agreed to pay by performance model and you know what happen, we worked our A$$ off, did the research, the set-up, got them leads, and they still weren’t happy. (we don’t work for the company, we get you leads, its up to you to close your deals, we are not your sales team) I would advise AGAINST bartering as well, tried that too :)

4. Social Media and Social Networking is not for EVERY client– Every business is different so be sure you analyze the prospect in depth BEFORE taking them on as a client. If they have a 4 year old website, why would we want to drive traffic to it? So we recommended a new website FIRST, then we will drive the traffic. (they thought they could get a good site done for 500$ so I said be my guest, then they came back for a full word press site from us)

5. Make your deliverables clear– Make sure you specify where the hours will be allocated for the project so the client is clear about what THEY will bring to the table, and what YOU will bring. We ask our clients to commit to X amount of training per month, X amount of content submissions, articles, etc.

I hope this helps clarify what life has been like for the non-theory preaching social media enthusiasts (I used to be one too, and still am a little, but businesses need help so we are rolling up our sleeves and helping what businesses we can, and who have the budget of course)

Any thoughts on your experiences? I know we have many readers who are in this industry, so feel free to leave some insight or feedback on your experiences in the trenches of social media consulting,
Thanks
JustinRFrench
CEO Social Networking San Diego
Have any questions- hit me up on the G-Voice 760 – 576 – GOLF oh yeah!!

P.S. Get a copy of “Social Media Survival Guide for Business” The FAST TRACK
$9.95
Click Here to order: (if you have time to read it) But this will be a helpful guide for you and your business as you journey into Social Media and Social Networking for Business. Enjoy

Top 5 Questions When Considering Social Networking And Social Media For Business

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I have been Blogging about social media and social networking since January 2009 and since then, things have just been exploding! Its Monday, time to get down to business!

This is a simple, to the point, NO BS Blog Post to keep you up-to-date on what’s been happening in the trenches of the social networking and social media consulting world in San Diego & across the country these last few months.

Top 5 Questions When Considering Social Networking And Social Media For Business
1. Who is your target audience? CFO’s, CEO’s, Purchasing Directors, Consumers, teens????

2. What is your objective? What re you selling? Product or Service? I.E. increase traffic to company website, increase sales, increase brand awareness, increase conversion, etc.

3. Get the right people on the bus (I can assure you that your corporation will most likely need an outside consultant to help with your social media strategy) Establish who is handling your content writing, tweeting, facebook, branding, marketing, design, content writing, etc.

4. How much time will YOU sped on this? This is not FREE! Its very complex, this is a social media science project so get ready put in some sweat equity

5. What do you want to do?

You have 3 options:
1.
learn yourself
2. 100% outsourced online marketing or outsourced social media marketing to our team at Social Networking San Diego
3. Fast track to social media with Social Networking San Diego. This is the most chosen method by our clients. We help develop your goals/ objectives, strategy building, set-up, integration of all social networking and social media components, train, and coach you along the way.

Best success we have seen with our clients is a joint-effort or option 3. (we take a holistic approach that is cohesive and comprehensive which produces the most scalable results over time)

Are you ready to get your social media marketing strategy executed? Contact Keith our VP at 760-500-6043
Thanks
Justin

Top 5 Lessons in Trust relating to Social Media and Social Networking

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

social media consulting, social media marketing, social media agency, trustworthy social media consultants, trust in social media marketing

I have been hearing about these 3 components (Trust, Transparency, and Team) in Social Media and Social Networking for the last couple of days and I have an interesting story to tell you. I haven’t told a story in a while so please bare with me and I assure you it will teach you some VERY valuable lessons I’ve learned thus far in my 10 years in Business. I hope you can share some of your stories as well.

Trust-  Every single person I have come across in my life, I trust 100% until they give me reason not to.  I can’t tell you how many times in business this has turned bad for me, BUT there are some lessons to be learned.

1.  You learn to be less trustworthy of people who give you reason not to trust them by either body language, demeanor, research you do on line, or what other people say about this person or their firm whether it be online or offline. This is even MORE relevant in today’s business climate because of social media and social networking as we know. Everything is becoming exposed and brands and companies sometimes aren’t even aware of the positive OR negative effects it has on them.

2. People are becoming smarter in their buying decisions and in whom they conduct business with. We no longer want to be spammed or bombarded with ads and piles of junk mail. We want to engage and interact with others and build relationships and when we DO have a need we can ask our social network where/whom to buy from because of TRUST. I think this is good for business and much needed especially in today’s economic state.

3.  When you get burned in a bad business deal (I have made plenty over the last 10 years because of being to trustworthy of others) it makes you really have to dig down deep into yourself and overcome obstacles and challenges that come about from a deal gone bad. But once your get through it and your company stays afloat, you come out MUCH stronger and brighter. It’s a notch on the belt as a learning experience. Not to mention those deals and hours I spent reviving a server and not seeing a penny from the job even after staying in an office all weekend to have them up and running by Monday morning. Is it worth the fight in small claims court to recoupe???

4. I remember I formed a bad partnership deal (this wasn’t the first nor the last) in my old IT consulting firm back in 2004 and the company was in the brink of extinction until I put on my “hustle hat” and went to work.  I billed out $140,000 of IT consulting that year on my own but it was NOT easy.  Working 60 hours a week AND going to school was a challenge, but I stuck it out and saved the company thanks to my social network, understanding family (thankfully putting up with my sometimes bad attitude due to high stress levels, and of course aligning with the right strategic alliances (one of the most important business relationships a small business can have).

5. The same trust principles apply no matter what business you are in. Trust carries with you no matter what job or company you start. No company can take your TRUST away from you OR the relationships you have built. Hundreds of companies trusted me with their data, IT infrastructure, servers, etc. when I ran that IT consulting firm Perfect Integration and because of the integrity, trustworthiness and credibility that I spent building up over the years it has carried into the next company Social Networking San Diego (my 3rd). And now I see companies are doing the same for their social media engagements, campaigns, and marketing- trusting our TEAM of social media consultants to help them with their online marketing in a holistic and comprehensive manner which can be very time consuming and complex for business professionals not exposed to this new trend. And be it known I know now what mistakes I made and what NOT to do for the future.

Transparency and Team will be the next posts. Please Re-Tweet this post if you can, I think other business professionals can benefit from hearing some of these experiences.

Cheers,
Justin
p.s. If you need an assessment or have questions, please call my VP Keith at 760-500-6043 and he can discuss your needs/ challenges personally.

Is your social media agency producing results for your business?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

teamsnsd

Social Media Agencies are the newest of terms I have heard going around.  They usually have a combined offline and online approach to marketing and advertising but because of this new social media revolution occurring, social media agencies are coming to market.  The question is, how good are they?  Are they producing results for their clients?  Is their campaign on budget? Are they measuring results?  Our typical engagement is 9 months and this is the minimum time line i would suggest for a successful social media marketing campaign.

The internet has brought a tremendous change in our lives. Things all over the world are changing very fast, and people have to be on their toes to catch up with the changes in technology and media. The social media arena is just one vast area that has still not yet been tapped to its full potential. Opportunities are plenty, but unless you are aware of what social media agencies and social media consultants are about; you are not going to be able to use it!

Traditionally, social media was not considered a good market by agencies, but now times have changed. Marketers have now realized the positive aspects of using social media for marketing; and slowly but surely social media agencies are popping up. Social media campaigns are predicted to cause a great revolution online eventually, as 90% of the world’s population is online at one point of time or another.

At present, there are six different media that are used to support social media marketing and they are-

Social networking sites where individuals are free to build their own WebPages (personal profiles) and change the settings as they see fit. This allows them to be completely free about their individual personalities and thousands of people may popular pages and be influenced by their comments and ideas. A few of the more popular social networking sites are Myspace, Facebook, Linked-in and now my favorite twitter.

Blogs are another aspect where people can keep online journals with their personal ideas and thoughts about anything from products and services or opinions, but remember here that the value of the content to the audience is key.

Wikis are official pages hosted by Wikipedia but are open for editing and updating by the lay public. It serves as a communal store of information with over three million English articles.

Podcasts are available and a great source of advertising and spread of information through the internet.

Forums, communities and micro-blogging are the last three variants that allow large discussions to be held on several topics where thousands of people log in from all over the world. Twitter is the foremost leader in micro-blogging

Social media marketing companies can use these mediums to promote ideas or products and increase exposure of their product all over the world through a few simple click- throughs and a lot cheaper than traditional advertising such as radio and TV.  The returns on investment can be measured in a social media campaign, because basically social media is made up of people who frequently talk about what brands they like or dislike and what they buy and from where. An effective social media agency can maintain a brand presence in a social media campaign and can extract maximum benefit from a good social media commitment.

Social media or social marketing is about people and people buy things, its that simple.

What types of things do you look for in a social media agency?  Your feedback is much appreciated-

Justin