Social media: Take your Conversation to the Next Level


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You regularly post status updates on your Facebook business page, alerting fans to new products or services you offer, specials or just fun facts. You even upload a picture occasionally. You are also on Twitter—tweeting and re-tweeting to your followers. Now what?

Part two of this month’s Small Business 101 webinar explores taking your social media skills to the next level and looks at how you can incorporate additional social media platforms—including foursquare, Youtube and blogs—into your overall marketing strategy.

We’ll offer tips and strategies on making these arenas work for you to reach new customers and retain your current ones.

Business is tough. We can help you find new customers.

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  • Good afternoon. My name is Lora Ullerich, I’m the digital media specialist for Cole Information and today’s Small Business Marketing 101 is around social media and taking your conversation to the next level. Earlier this week, we had an intro to social media including a step-buy-step guide to creating a FB business page and also a twitter account. If any of you were on the call earlier this week, hopefully you learned a lot and thanks for joining us for Part B of social media. So--You’re comfortable with posting updates on FB and tweeting and retweeting via twitter—but what else is out there? Can additional social media platforms enhance your business? Does it make sense to your business? Today we’re going to explore those questions and help you figure that out.
  • Discuss today's session. There are 100s of SM spaces out there, in today’s webinar we will show you the two spaces you should be using…. Should be using Facebook to network with customers and the local marketplace. Use Twitter to inform yourself and agency, then use it as a communication channel in the future. For example you can start following @coleinformation or @ijournal to get relevant industry information and advise.
  • Before we get started, just a little background on Cole Information. In 1947, Jack Cole created Cole Directory. The “Blue Book” is the original criss-cross reference directory, a standard tool for business and government. Today, we’re located in Omaha, Neb. and we continue this tradition of innovation and technology to offer information products that simplify people’s tasks to help make them more productive.
  • We also have a an online community called Cole Community, where with articles, a blog & other content including past webinars we think is interesting & is beneficial to small business owners like yourself. We invite you to take a look around, check out the site & use it as a resource for your needs.
  • Today we’re going to give you a highlight of what social media is & the benefits of harnessing this power to interact with customers and prospects to provide valuable information and two-way communication. We’re going to suggest some areas where we think your agents could benefit and also discuss some social media platforms to consider. Just some high-level stats for you: Facebook boasts they have more than 700 million active users—more than 250 million active users who are accessing FB through their mobile devices. This is a low-cost option for your business and a recent survey from Pitney Bowes indicates that small and mid-sized businesses are using social media as a marketing tactic because of its cost-effectiveness (54%) and easy to use (53%). This is a low-cost option for your business. According to Hubspot, FB has 160.8 million unique visitors in June, 2011, alone. This is a low-cost option for your business and a recent survey from Pitney Bowes indicates that small and mid-sized businesses are using social media as a marketing tactic because of its cost-effectiveness (54%) and easy to use (53%). Twitter has more than 200 million users who tweet information to their followers in 140 characters or less. So what does this mean for travelers agents? There is a shift in the marketplace from interruption marketing to permission based marketing Smart phone adaptation – immediate communication and gathering of information
  • Voice- give updates, quick release of information, more personable than a static website. It is good to have a corporate website or a personal agency site and it has it’s place, but with FB you have a free site that when synced up with followers all the sudden gives you a voice, almost like the channel talks. Relationships – dialogue, top of mind, connect with people that want to hear from you and ask to receive information from you. Important to use FB to connect withy our customers and have fun with it. Local – Corporate spends millions of dollars to promote the company and create brand awareness. The beauty of FB and SM is that all the sudden you can associate yourself with these campaigns. For example you could post on your FB page. “Have you seen our latest commercial where the dog is worried about his bone? Check it out on our youtube channel and tell me what you think.” “Don’t forget, as your Travelers agent, I am here to remove the worry from your day”
  • Take your facebook interactions a step further by asking a question. It could be as simple and fun as 4 th of July plans like Darlene with the Moreales Agency asked her fans. Or it could be more in-depth—a product question, a customer service question, a question on what the competition does better. Any number of ways you can get a pulse of what people think and ways to make you a better small business owner.
  • Make sure your business is on FB places—this is a feature that allows customers/prospects to check-in at your place of business on their mobile devices—so their friends will see where they’re at. Having a place on Facebook creates more ways for you to promote and grow your business on Facebook. By giving your potential customers the ability to check in at your business, you give them the power to tell their friends about it. As you can see I checked into Cole Information on my smart phone & the link takes you directly back to Cole Information’s FB homepage & on the wall, it shows up that I checked in.
  • Twitter is important because it allows for real time impact, anticipation by followers and gives them a reason to follow you for promotions and information in 140 characters or less. Educate: Follow industry leaders and your competitors—other insurance agents in your area and beyond to see what they’re doing, what they’re saying and who they’re talking to. Follow insurance industry experts such as @ijournal @coleinformation Pass on: Retweet interesting information including articles and other “tweets” that may be of interest to your followers and it also shows that you are keeping up with the latest news in your field. Relationships: Find an invite your customers to follow you, okay to incentivize them. Keep yourself top of mind by tweeting and retweeting interesting local topics that they can relate to.
  • Take it a step further: for you in the event of a natural disaster. I’m sure many of you remember the EF-5 tornado that devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri late last month (May 25). As you can see the he Missouri Department of Insurance says in the first week alone, Joplin residents filed almost 17,000 insurance claims, which included commercial property, homeowners insurance and automobile claims among others. Here’s an example of how one insurance agent used the power of social media to show her support for the community that she lives and works in. Lynn Wobig is an Allstate insurance rep tweeted to her followers that she was helping out the community by “matching dollars for Joplin & matching donations up to $500.” For people following her, what a huge good-will gesture and an opportunity to generate some buzz about what she’s doing.
  • Make it work for you. Schedule out your tweets weeks in advance with third party tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck. These low cost or free programs also are synching up with FB, Linkd In & other social media platforms Make sure your tweets include links back to you, your website or your blog so people can get a hold of you or discover more about you. Use twitter to search trending topics and what people are saying about your industry or service. If people have a question you can answer, follow them, start a dialogue & develop a relationship. It may just end up in a sale. Be responsive, be sure to respond back to a query, question within 24 hours.
  • Here’s some social media ideas that have caught on in popularity among consumers and it’s something we think your agents might want to consider as a way to small business owners can reach out to their customers.
  • Mobile Marketing is exploding with the surge in popularity of cell phones & smartphones. According to Nielsen 201o Media industry fact sheet, there are 223 million people in the US who have a cell phone and the percentage of mobile devices that are smart phones is 21%. And will only continue to rise. If you’re a brick mortar store, it may be a good idea to start to think about implement the following tactics into your marketing campaign. The use of it’s easy to create a poster and hang it up at your place of business that says text
  • One way to drive traffic is through QR or quick response codes. These are two-dimensional codes Although they’ve been around since 1994, they’ve only recently became more popular. And only recently have been popping up on billboards, direct mail and other forms of advertising. The way consumers are using them is via their smartphones. They snap a picture of the barcode and then using a free reader app, they are taken to either a website, video, or coupon that’s unique to that business. Why it’s important for a business is that, if done correctly, you can grow your business. You can create unique barcodes free of charge and then you can direct people to your website, a video that shows more information about your product or a coupon or special. How create one: Google QR codes & you’ll find a number of sites that allow you to create them for free. For example, Kaywa QR code.
  • You can drive traffic through text messaging. who doesn’t send & receive text messages? SMS or short message service is very popular. In 2009 the wireless industry trade group said some 3.5 billion text messages are sent and received every day, according to CTIA, the wireless industry trade group. Why it’s important? –who doesn’t read their texts? It’s got a high open-read rate of concise, targeted information. It’s an easy way for you to offer an coupon or other promotion to that customer that’s relatively inexpensive. It’s easy to implement. You simply find a keyword that fits with your business, advertise that keyword on posters, print and wherever else to have people text into a certain number. Then an automatic text goes back to them which creates the customer’s opt in. then you’re free to text them.
  • Next is foursquare: this is an application that allows consumers to “check in” via their cell phones at various venues and leave a peer review. Restaurants, coffee shops and businesses are taking advantage of this mobile app to connect with their frequent customers and give them incentives for being loyal customers. And it’s popular. In just two years, the company now has 10 million people who are using it.
  • Here’s how agents could make an insurance agent is making foursqure work for her. Go to and click on “add venue”. Choose an appropriate “badge” and utilize the loyalty rewards program to create buzz about what agents are doing. Something to consider: incentivize your clients to stop by through specialty coffee or gas gift cards if they stop in and say “hi” twice in a month or a quarter. That’s a way to drive traffic—or even a referral. Have a friend stop in/say hi and you get a gift card.
  • Next youtube. It is the second largest search engine behind Google. And there are numerous examples of insurance agencies who are harnessing the power to put their commercials online for viewers to watch. If you have a franchise or work for a national insurance brand utilize their channel that has the national tv campaigns. You can also use customer testimonials to help set you/your business apart from the competition.
  • Rather than a business card with your picture on it, as people are more interactive online, I’m going to introduce you to Doug Bevins—he’s a licensed health and life insurance agent in New Hampshire. This is what’s being called a video calling card. Take a look.
  • Keep it short. It’s an introduction, not a instructional video. Hire a pro. If you’re a pro, your video must look professional. Don’t skimp. Plan on spending about $1000. Be conversational. Video your personality, not your pitch. No biz-blab. Don’t use industry jargon and buzzwords. Make it automatic. Link your video into your email signature. Post it everywhere. Make sure your social networks can see it. Don’t expect too much. It won’t go viral, but it will help sell.
  • A third option to consider are blogs. “Blogs” or weblogs are a great way to get your message to your clients and also prospects.
  • Here at Cole Information, we just launched Buddy’s Blog on Cole Community. This is our most recent blog on tips we have to avoid the dreaded summer sales slump. Please read it & comment!
  • Keep it short. 300 words or less is the standard. You don’t have to write a novel. Write what you know about. you’re a subject matter expert in your field—make people aware of it. What trends are you seeing in the industry. What misconceptions do consumers have about your business. What do you want your customers or prospects to know. Spell check notice I misspelled the word on the screen & I bet while I’ve been talking, that’s all you’ve been focusing on. Take the time to make sure your grammar and spelling is correct. It takes a little longer, but pays off. Share it. Link your video into your email signature. Post it everywhere. Make sure your social networks can see it. Don’t expect too much. It won’t go viral, but it will help sell.
  • So again, blogs, Youtube, foursquare—these are additional social media platforms to consider. With all these social media applications, it’s clear to see that it is on the rise & businesses need to take advantage of it to create that two-way online communication. You can do this by creating a Facebook business page, tweeting relevant information. Social Media is on the rise. Take advantage of it in your business. Create a local network of consumers and businesses using Facebook Tweet relevant content and ideas to your followers using Twitter Drive store traffic using Foursquare formation and ideas to your followers and driving traffic through foursquare.
  • Continue to connect with your network on your various sm plaforms including: Update your Facebook status, upload pictures tag (@) other local pages Pose a question on those sites Post, tweet and retweet on Twitter Research—see what other businesses you consider your competition or those companies you want to emulate are doing Are they on Youtube? Foursquare? Blogging? Take some time to see what’s working for them & if makes sense for you as well. Ask questions to your current customers. Where are they hanging out in cyberspace? Do they use foursquare? Are they constantly on the go? Does it make sense to incorporate text messaging into your marketing campaign? Don’t bite off more than you can chew What ever SM platform you use, it should be updated on a regular basis. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel—keep it consisent across the board & don’t neglect your website. It needs to have the look and feel & the SM buttons so people can see where you’re located. Have fun—this shouldn’t take you all day—do one or two things & do them well.
  • Here’s some online resources for you. Are there any questions?
  • Social media: Take your Conversation to the Next Level

    1. 1. Social Media: Are You Ready to take the Conversation to the Next Level?
    2. 2. Session Framework <ul><li>Two Social Media spaces small business should already be using </li></ul><ul><li>A look into Social Media’s future and what is on the horizon </li></ul><ul><li>Close with five action points to start on today </li></ul><ul><li>Open it up for Q&A </li></ul>
    3. 3. Background <ul><li>Cole Directory published in 1947 </li></ul><ul><li>Criss-cross directory of addresses and phone numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Invaluable information for a number of industries: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Telemarketing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Debt collection </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Law enforcement </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4.
    5. 5. Social Media Overview <ul><li>“ Interaction among people, brands and information.” </li></ul><ul><li>700 million Facebook users </li></ul><ul><li>200 million Twitter users </li></ul>But what does that mean for you?
    6. 6. <ul><ul><li>Why it’s important for a small business owner: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A website with a voice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster and grow meaningful relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local personality to a national brand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Like Box” on Profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Tag” other pages using “@” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post about local events in your status updates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take advantage of corporate national marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivate “likers” with incentives & promos </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Like Box Tag using @
    8. 8. Pose a question?
    9. 9. Check-in using Places
    10. 10. <ul><ul><li>Why it’s important for a small business: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source to educate your co-workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pass on relevant information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster and grow meaningful relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow industry leaders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share industry news, trends and it’s impact on consumers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine valuable offers to gain followers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tweet & Retweet! </li></ul></ul>TM
    11. 11. “ Tweet” about a way you are helping your community
    12. 12. <ul><ul><li>Make it work for you: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedule tweets in advance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tweet links back to your business or blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discover what’s trending </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be Responsive </li></ul></ul>TM
    13. 13. <ul><li>The way we communicate is changing </li></ul><ul><li>Social Media spaces to keep an eye on </li></ul>Future Outlook
    14. 14. <ul><ul><li>Surge in Cell phone & Smartphone use: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>223 million Americans own a cell phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>21% of mobile users have a smartphone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contain unique information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why it’s important: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides instant deals to on-the-go consumers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps deliver unique content, promotions, coupons </li></ul></ul>TM Mobile Marketing
    15. 15. <ul><ul><li>What are QR Codes: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stands for “Quick Response” code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two-dimensional barcode </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contains unique information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why it’s important: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhance your business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share product features </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer coupons or promotions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>Drive Mobile Traffic QR Codes TM Mobile Marketing
    16. 16. <ul><ul><li>What does SMS mean: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stands for “Short Message Service” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>160 character </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3.5 billion text messages in 2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why it’s important: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High open-read rate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer coupons or other incentives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relatively inexpensive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Obtain a keyword that customers text in to a certain number </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automatic text back which creates the opt in </li></ul></ul>Drive Mobile Traffic using SMS TM Mobile Marketing Text customers special offers & promotions 90210
    17. 17. <ul><ul><li>What is foursquare: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Location based marketing using a cell phone </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why it’s important: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Both foursquare use, and smart-phone use are on the rise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More buzz = More traffic = More sales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster customer loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose appropriate “badge” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implement loyalty rewards program </li></ul></ul>Drive agency traffic using foursquare TM
    18. 18. Check-in at various venues
    19. 21. Video Tips <ul><ul><li>Keep it short: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1-2 minutes in length </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep it professional: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider hiring a professional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be yourself: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link it: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Email signature, website, social media outlets </li></ul></ul></ul>
    20. 22. Blogs are a great way to show you are a subject matter expert
    21. 23. Buddy’s blog is another way we’re reaching out to you.
    22. 24. Blog Tips <ul><ul><li>Keep it short: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>300 words or less </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write what you know: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Industry trends, misconceptions, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spell chek: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spelling and grammar is important </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Email signature, website, social media outlets </li></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 25. Review TM <ul><li>Two Social Media spaces small businesses should already be using </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A look into Social Medias future and what is on the horizon. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact of mobile and tablet use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foursquare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul>
    24. 26. 5 Action Points <ul><li>Connect – continue to develop your network </li></ul><ul><li>Research – Additional ways you can connect </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions – what are your customers using? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t bite off more than you can chew </li></ul><ul><li>Have fun </li></ul>
    25. 27. Resources
    26. 28. 8