You have all heard about social media and some of you are already using social media tools. In fact, you mentioned 17 different social media platforms from around the world including Weibo, Hyves, Vkontakte , Facebook, Twitter and more. It was very clear that social media activity is not something which the majority of you use in business. However, you all suggested that you would like to learn about it and how you can use it to find new customers, to communicate more quickly with customers and to promote our business and products to the right people. So, the next 45 minutes is designed to give you some practical insights in how social media works, why it is important and how you can use it to your benefit in business.
So, let's get down to the background of social media and some perceptions about this relatively new phenomenon. The point behind social media started with friends sharing information with each other and letting them know what they are doing. they share photos,videos, websites, jokes, products they are buying or places they have visited. But, so what? We are in business and we want and need to grow the business. Our aims are to keep finding new customers and to keep our existing customers happy.
So, with all of the hype that you hear about social media, which has been recently highlighted by the floatation of Facebook on the stock market which is now worth $100 Billion, you have to question whether social media can answer the question:How can social media help me to find new customers?
On the face of it, social media can appear to be confusing for anyone in business. How on earth can sharing information about what you are doing, watching, reading or writing be of any use to use to our business?We are so conditioned by how we have done business in the past which has been focused on interrupting people with our calls, emails and advertisements that we don't imagine that their is a different approach to sales and marketing that we can learn from social media. The perception of social media is that it is often of low value because all people are sharing information which is of low value to others. I mean, who cares what your neighbour had for breakfast? I know I don't unless I was marketing breakfast cereal. And that's the point. Good use of social media for business is all about finding the ideal customers for your products or services and helping them.
From your feedback, the majority of you want to be able to find qualified leads or prospective customers. You want to learn how to do this with social media. You don't want to waste your time with useless updates on Twitter or Facebook which won't help you to find customers for you. I aim to show you practical ways to find prospects and turn them into customers using some simple principles and practices.
The rest of this presentation is going to focus on three principles to help you successfully use social media to help find you new customers. The principles our firstly about learning how to listen on social media platforms. Most people worry about what they have to tweet or share to begin with. I regularly hear people saying they don't know what to say or write on Twitter, for example. That's why you get a lot of people saying things like "I'm sitting here staring out of the window and don't know what to say". That's a quote. That was my brother's first quote. People worry about the fact that they don't have any followers, so who will listen to them anyway? Don't worry about that either. Just listen. I will show you how to listen in a minute. And, remember, the most effective business people are those who learn to listen first. The next thing you need to learn to do regularly is to share. Sharing is one thing that we can all do. Not everyone likes sharing, thinking that by sharing what they know they will lose a competitive edge. They believe that they will lose out on opportunities by sharing what they know. Well this is simply untrue. Learn to share and you will find more people interested in you and what you do. Once you have mastered listening and sharing, you can then start to connect with people who are relevant and interested in your products and services.
So, how do you listen to your prospective customers online?Initially, you need to define something very important which, without it, makes your life very difficult to be successful. You have to define who is your ideal customer for the product or service you have. For example, who is the ideal customer or who are the ideal customers for translated IP data? If you don't have that defined then before you start using social media then stop and describe the ideal customer so you know who to look for online. Define them by where they are, their job title, their likely age range, the subjects they are likely to talk about, what they had to learn to get to do the job they do, which conferences they attend and so on.When you have done that, your time on social media will be more productive.
OK, now we have defined the customers, let's look at some practical ways in which you can find them.
I talked about what your customers are likely to be talking about and that is important to understand their world. If you know something about them, you are likely to know the words, phrases and terminology they use. And, if you know a little about how search engines work, you will know these words and phrases as keywords and key phrases. You need to search for these keywords online through the social media platforms. I will go into how you find these in more details later. But, for the time being start thinking about the keywords your prospects will be using and list them.
Another phenomenon on Twitter is the hash tag. This is the hash (#) symbol which sits in front of a word. That word might be one of your keywords or phrases. You use hash tags to help people find your tweets. So, when someone writes a tweet about their subject (let's say they are talking about patents) they will use the hash tag #patent. Or, if they are talking about intellectual property rights, they might use the hash tag #ipr. Hash tags and keywords allow you to narrow down your listening more easily to those people that you want to find more easily.
In addition, there are many online 'Groups' that focus on the areas of need or interest that your customers. For instance, LinkedIn has several groups focusing on Intellectual Property. And some groups specialise on, say, Chinese Intellectual Property matters. Their members of these groups are asking questions and opinions about the subject and you can read and monitor what they are saying and what interests them. I recommend that you go to LinkedIn, search for relevant groups using your keywords and join two or three groups to get a feel for what they are saying. Once you have done this, you will realise something very important. When you join a group on LinkedIn, it allows you to see more of their details than you can see about them if you are not in the same group. Furthermore, you can invite other members to connect with you. When others connect with you, you get more contact details which you can use to add to your CRM. However, I don't recommend connecting to people just yet. You don't want to start connecting with people before you have offered something of value to them. I will come onto this later.
If you're not careful, you can become quickly overwhelmed with the status updates from people you follow or connect with in your social media accounts. If you follow 200 people, for example, who all send out one update per day, that's quite a lot of updates to look through. So, you need to manage your accounts carefully with tools or applications which control the flow of information according to how you want to see it. Fortunately, there are some really good tools available which are free to use. They are often available online and some of them can be downloaded onto your PC. I will talk about some of them now to give you some ideas.
Twitter Lists are a simple but very powerful way to manage the information that you are receiving from the people you follow. You create a list, give it a name which describes the list and then add relevant people to the list. Then you can see information by using this simple categorisation.
When you have several social media accounts, it's a pain to have to flick between their various sites so you can be much more efficient by working with special applications which help you to manage the accounts. Hootsuite is a good online application which enables you to manage different accounts and allows you to manage the lists you set up in Twitter, as well as managing Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. You can manage up to five social media accounts. In addtion, you can use Hootsuite to work as a team managing an account. This is handy if you are using monitoring customer feedback around the world in different time zones. A further benefit of Hootsuite, which the marketers among you will like, is that you can track how many people click the links in any updates you send out. Another application to help you manage your social media accounts is Tweetdeck. It's owned by Twitter and you can either use the online version or install the desktop application. it's slick and easy to use. Both of these applications arrange the flow of tweets and updates into columns. You add columns by either using a specific account, a keyword you are looking for, or by a specific search query so you can really narrow down your viewing to what it relevant to you and the customers you are looking for. This is why it is so important to start with identifying your ideal customer and to understand the language they use to use in your searches in the columns.
Another way for you to focus on specific types of people you are interested in communicating with is through Groups. Specifically, I am talking about LinkedIn here. Many of you indicated that you have joined LinkedIn which is a very good social networking site for business. Within LinkedIn, there are numerous special interest groups where people congregate and share problems and solutions in the world they work in. For instance, there are groups in LinkedIn which focus on Chinese Intellectual Property. You can join these groups and get updates on questions people ask or news they share. You can pick up a lot of information in these groups and find people who are interesting to you as prospective customers. I will come back to how to connect with these people later in the presentation.
If you are not comfortable with responding to people, then imagine you are at a party and standing with someone listening to them. It would be a bit strange if you just stood there without saying a word, particularly if you are interested in them. So, the next important step for you to take with the people you follow on your social media accounts is to start responding to what they are saying or sharing. Here are the steps you can take to start responding to your target customers on social media platforms.
Firstly, you need to start following them or putting them into your Circles on Google+, if you have not done this already in the earlier steps I have mentioned. You find these people by creating searches for the keywords, phrases and hash tags that I mentioned earlier on. The beauty about following people on Twitter and the other social networking platforms is that, quite often, they follow you back. When they follow you back, they start to see your updates which will be important later on when you start to send out your own updates, which I will come onto in a minute.
When you have begun following people on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Weibo, you will see that people often send updates out with links to the latest blog posts on their websites. Follow these links to their posts and read about what they are saying. If you find it interesting, then leave a comment to perhaps add to what they are saying. When you leave a comment on their blog post, then make sure you will in the details about yourself and include your name, email address and a link to the Lighthouse IP website, and try to link to a web page on our site which is specifically relevant to the post you are commenting on. This is a really important action to take. When you start to comment on people's blogs or updates, you start to get noticed by the writers. You are starting to build a relationship through your comments. The person who posted the blog often replies to your comment. If they are someone you would like to do business with, then make sure your comment is positive and constructive.
When the people you are interested in send out tweets or updates, reply to their tweets with comments. You start to build relationships with people by having conversations with them. Start replying to interesting updates to the people that interest you. Again, make sure your replies are positive and constructive.
Now that you might started getting used to interacting with your prospect online through their social media accounts, you can now take a step in the world of social media which will begin to increase your influence online with your target market. You need to start sharing. Sharing is a cornerstone of social media. Get used to sharing but don't just share anything. Share anything which is going to be useful, interesting and relevant to your intended audience, namely your target market. Let's talk a bit more about content.
The pinnacle of information you should share is the content which you create. Your content could be updates in Weibo or Twitter. It could be blog posts on your blog. It could be videos of something interesting you have seen at an event. What you must remember is that your content needs to be original, relevant, interesting or helpful. The more interesting you make, the more people will share your information and your influence will grow. Creating great content is one of the most important activities we can all do to help promote our business, products and services to prospective customers. Creating great content takes time but it is very effective at helping to get you noticed.
Blogs are an important and effective way to share your content. You can write about issues you come across with customers or prospects you meet. Make sure you write post of 200 words or more and use the keywords and phrases you identified that your customers and prospects are using in their updates, blogs or websites. Blog posts are quite easy to share and search engines like new content. If people like your content, they share it with their contacts. There are some great blogging applications like Wordpress, Typepad and Blogger on the market which are free to use and which help your content get found by search engines and people alike.
More recently, Google has launched its new social media platform which is very business orientated with the tools which you can use to share your content, comment upon other people's content and find your target market. In addition, you can add tools which allow you to create once and post to other social networks from it. Furthermore, one of the big benefits of Google is the fact that they now index Google+ posts in real time so that they show in search results on their search engine.
Going back to LinkedIn again, there is a great way to be helpful and to develop your influence amongst prospetive customers by helping directly with their questions. Log into LinkedIn and you will see a menu item called 'Answers' which categorises people's questions into groups to do different subjects. Find a category that you know well and start anwering questions. People who like your answers rate them which helps you gain recognition.
If the sound of creating your own content is sounding too onerous, then don't despair. You're right. Creating orginal content is time consuming. However, if time is not on your side, the next best thing you can do is share other people's content. Share their blog posts, share their tweets and updates, share their videos and presentations. Just make sure that what you share is relevent to the audience you want to attract.
You might be thinking that finding relevant content for your audience is too much like hard work. Where do you begin to look for the interesting and relevant information?It's a lot easier than you think thanks to a great tool from Google called Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a tool which helps you to find content for you automatically based upon a search term you use such as 'China Intellectual Property'. Google Alerts will track down blog posts, news items, videos and documents for you while you sit back and wait. It will deliver the news to you in the form of an email or an RSS feed.
I mentioned RSS feeds in the previous slide. If you use the RSS feed, just use Google Reader or another RSS feeder to collect the updates for you. Whenever you visit an interesting blog which Google Alerts has not picked up, then look for the RSS symbol which you can click. You will then be asked which tool you want to use to collect the updates. You can even use Microsoft Outlook to collect RSS feeds for you by using the link which is presented to you on a blog through the RSS symbol.You will be able to build yourself a small content factory and sharing system with very little.
You can share the interesting posts from Google Reader quite easily to your social media accounts. There are links and icons for you to click to share. Also, you will see the social media icons on many websites. Just click them and share anything interesting to your audience.
So, why is this content so important? Why should you take creating content so seriously?
The main point is this - Good content creates confidence in your abilities to help people.You might think that telling people how to solve their problems is giving away your opportunity to sell to them. Well, the truth is that not everyone will be able to buy your products or services because of budget constraints, for example.
However, you will be seen as someone who knows what they are talking about and someone who is trustworthy. Your role is to build prospective customers confidence and trust in you. You want to build the opportunity for them to know, like and trust you to help them. People will share good content and your ability to reach more people through helping them will spread further because they are sharing it with their networks.
Equally as important, search engines like fresh, high quality content which is relevant to the website it sits on. Search engines index websites and particularly like blogs. The more content you can get on your website which is relevant and good quality, the better chances you have of getting your pages indexed. People who share your content will place links on their websites or social media accounts which will create inbound links to the relevant web pages on your site. Search engines like inbound links. It helps to grow your rankings and position in the search results.
I hope you are getting the feel for making connections now, sharing and creating content and how important it is for finding your ideal customers. You need to start developing new habits.
Get into the habit of connecting with people
When you meet someone at a conference, a seminar or networking event you, of course, want to exchange business cards with them. Make sure that you connect with them online too through the business social networking sites which they are on. I use LinkedIn for this, although there are services like Plaxo which do the same thing. Also, make sure you all connect with your colleagues here. You never know who your colleagues are connected to.
I talked about LinkedIn Groups earlier in the presentation. One of the great advantages of joining Groups on LinkedIn is that you have the opportunity to see other people's details in the group. You can search through the group for people who look like your ideal customer. LinkedIn Groups give you a much better chance of connecting with your ideal customer than if you are not part of a group.
When you connect with people on LinkedIn after having met them, you can see who they are connected to. Your network widens dramatically when you connect to them.
When you are at conferences or seminars, get your laptop or smartphone out and open up Twitter or Weibo. Tweet about things you are learning and hearing.
Usually, the conference organiser publicises a hash tag at the beginning of it the event so that everyone there can send out tweets containing that hash tag so you can set up a list which searches for the tweets containing it. You will be able to follow what's going on and who is saying what at the event.
I recently went to the EPO Search Matters course in the Netherlands. There were about 200 people there listening to seminars given by lots of interesting speakers. However, hardly anyone was tweeting in one seminar I attended about the relevance of social media in prior art searches. So, I tweeted about what I was hearing about and learning and used a hash tag I made up called #searchmatters. A couple of tweets got picked up and were shared by followers. After the seminar, one of the speakers, who was a patent examiner came up to me to say thank you for tweeting about her presentation. She followed me on Twitter and I have also connected to her on LinkedIn. She's still sharing some of my tweets. It was a useful connection to make. I have also got business from tweeting at conferences where people have seen my tweets and asked me to come and see them on their stand.Promote yourself by providing value, sharing, helping and informing.
If you want to get more followers who could be customers, then there's one thing you should realise
When you follow people on Twitter, they often follow you back. They often have tools which automatically follow you back. When you follow people on Google+, for example, they often follow you back. Following helps get you more influence. Sharing content gets you more followers too.
Share some of the love and use the Follow Friday hash tag. On Friday, on Twitter send out a tweet to your followers containing the usernames of a few interesting people you have followed that week and add #followfriday or #ff. Getting other people more followers encourages them to do the same back to you.
If you really want to get more followers quickly, you can use tools like Twollo and SocialOomph to follow people for you automatically according to the keywords they use in their tweets. You can really get followers quickly like this, but beware of overdoing it and always aim for good people to follow rather than lots of junk. You should go for quality and quantity.
From your feedback, the majority of you want to be able to find qualifed leads or prospective customers. You want to learn how to do this with social media. You don't want to waste your time with useless updates on Twitter or Facebook which won't help you to find customers for you. I aim to show you practical ways to find prospects and turn them into customers using some simple principles and practices.
The rest of this presentation is going to focus on three principles to help you successfully use social media to help find you new customers. The principles our firstly about learning how to listen on social media platforms. Most people worry about what they have to tweet or share to begin with. I regularly hear people saying they don't know what to say or write on Twitter, for example. That's why you get a lot of people saying things like "I'm sitting here staring out of the window and don't what to say". That's a quote. That was my brother's first quote. People worry about the fact that they don't have any followers, so who will listen to them anyway? Don't worry about that either. Just listen. I will show you how to listen in a minute. And, remember, the most effective business people are those who learn to listen first. The next thing you need to learn to do regularly is to share. Sharing is one thing that we can all do. Not everyone likes sharing, thinking that by sharing what they know they will lose a competitive edge. They believe that they will lose out on opportunities by sharing what they know. Well this is simply untrue. Learn to share and you will find more people interested in you and what you do. Once you have mastered listening and sharing, you can then start to connect with people who are relevant and interested in your products and services.
Social Media - The effect, plus tips and tricks
The Effect, Tips and Tricks of Social Media by Will Hawkins
Finding new customers and keeping existing customers happy is vital for our business
How can social media help me to find more customers?
Social media can seem confusing and of low value