Tag Archives: Prospect

The Social Media Connection Cycle Explained [Infographic]

After many years in the industry, first as a social media agency, and now as a social media marketing software application, we have observed many cycles. As with most industries, there are cycles and flows that appear over time and social media is no different. Though not all social media accounts, brands or industry niches will experience the identical cycles, we have determined that those that really understand social media and are executing it well, will quickly recognize the flow I am about to explain. This concept is something that we have observed, modeled and used for many years, and still do today.

The cycle of engagement with your social media connectionsWithin your community there are ebbs and flows or “cycles” that occur. Though most social media managers are not consciously aware of this cycle, it is occurring nonetheless. So it is very important to understand the cycle, the components included within it and how it should affect your overall focus and subsequent results.

The Social Media Connection Cycle is a natural process that occurs within most social media communities. By community, we are specifically referring to the friends, followers and likes that are connected to you and/or your brand within the various social networks. All of these combined connections can be referred to as your community.

What Is The Social Media Connection Cycle?

The social media connection cycle is the flow of community connections in and out of the relationship sweet spot. This natural cycle is very similar to a businesses prospect, current and past customer flow and can even be seen in one’s individual relationships. Made up of the 5 components of your community, the connection cycle concept will help you visualize the sweet spot within your social following where the magic happens and the activities you can do to continue and grow that sweet spot.

Your Community – As stated above, your social community is “the combined connections you or your brand have within the social graph.” It is the envelope that contains the additional components and other elements of the cycle. The main “bucket” if you will.

Inside of this bucket are the 4 segments of the connection cycle including Relationships, New and Older Connections as well as Highly Targeted Connections. We will define these separate components and discuss their specific role within the cycle, then we will wrap up with the big picture.

First, the above Infographic shows that a “typical” social community is made up of 50% of Older Connections, 30% from Newer Connections and 20% from Highly Targeted Connections. Though the percentages from each of these segments may not be exactly the same for every company, marketer or niche, we have observed this to be a fairly typical scenario that makes up your overall community.

Active Relationships – At the center of the connection cycle are your real, active relationships. These are the connections that you know and engage with regularly.

The active relationship group within the cycle is comprised of portions of your connections that come from Older Connections, Newer Connections and Targeted Connections. Typically the percentages of these groups that migrate into your relationship bucket are as follows:

New Connections – 20% of these flow into active engaging relationships

Older Connections – 20% of these flow into active engaging relationships

Highly Targeted – 60% of these flow into active engaging relationships

It is really important to understand that Active Relationships are often not a substantially growing number or percentage of your overall community. What typically happens is that connections flow into and out of the active relationship cycle from the various connection types, while the overall number or percentage remains fairly constant. This is especially true when your community size is fairly static and not growing at a daily conscious pace. In fact if your social community is static or decreasing, it will often have a direct impact on the quantity and percentage of your active relationships within your social media efforts.

Older Connections – The ebb and flows of your connection types within the connection cycle are often least impacted by older connections, however by no means does that make them any less important. Think of your older connections as fluid relationship connections that periodically move in and out of the active relationship bucket over time. I often think of them as those friends that you get together with a few times a year, and it seems like you start right where you left off last.

The interesting thing we have discovered about older connections is that though only around 20% are inside the active relationship bucket at any given time, they represent about 50% of our new upgraded users in BundlePost. The important point here is the confirmation that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Long-term connections, even if they are not inside the active relationship bucket TODAY, do pay off in social media.

New Connections – New connections are made up of new followers, likes and friends that have “recently” connected with you on social media. Often times you can’t immediately establish whether they are a highly targeted connection, nor can they be considered an older connection, however they do represent one of the most important connection types within a healthy social community.

When your social media marketing consciously executes an effective strategy to grow your community, it has a powerful impact on your active relationships. Though new connections typically only make up 20% of your active relationship segment it is one of the factors you actually have control over. When you’re actively and continually focused on growing your overall community with new connections your audience grows, the number of engagement opportunities increase and it directly impacts your active conversations and relationships.

Highly Targeted Connections – The final segment of the connection cycle is made up of Highly Targeted Connections. I say “IS”, but I think the word SHOULD is probably more appropriate. If you are not consciously focusing on the connections within your community that are your highly targeted customers, prospects and influencers, you are dramatically and negatively impacting your social connection cycle. More importantly, your are likely not achieving the kind of results your social media marketing should be realizing.

The Wrap Up

The concept of the social media connection cycle is intended to help you visualize the dynamic flows within your social community. They are active, not static cycles that flow in and out of the central relationship zone, which is the “sweet spot” and where you should be spending your time, focus and energy.

Everything we discussed within this post is predicated on a few things. We are assuming you have a proper social media strategy in place and that you are executing it well. We also assume that you understand the quantity AND quality concepts related to consistent content in your streams every day, all day. And finally, we expect that you have set communication, conversation and rapid response as priorities for your daily social activity. If these assumptions are accurate, then visualizing the social media connection cycle throughout your daily social media management will bring new focus, understanding and opportunities to achieve improved results. If not, then you are likely experiencing another kind of cycle that has nothing to do with real results…

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Filed under Brand, Community, connection, Content, Engagement, Followers, Infographic, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Tools

Be A Maitre d’ Of Social Media Marketing

Maitre d' Of Social Media MarketingI can’t recall the source or specifics, but I recently heard a story on the radio involving a restaurant and a Maitre d’ that is embedded in my thoughts for time and memorial. Not the specific details, but the over-reaching premise and point of the story that directly connects to social media marketing and customer service. The story crossed my mind again this morning, triggered by a television commercial that was on in the background in my office. I decided to make the story the topic of this post.

The Story:

A couple came into the high-end restaurant that was known for their steak. The gentleman had really been craving a good steak, so he and his wife decided to go out. The Maitre d’ seated his guests at a table and proceeded to give them the royal treatment, helping with chairs and napkins. Taking the couples order the waiter meticulously detailed every instruction for their meal and went off to secure its creation with the chef.

After getting the couple their drinks, appetizers and salads, the moment of truth arrived. The waiter delivered the most beautifully prepared steak the man had ever seen.

As the aroma filled the man’s nostrils, the Maitre d’ asked if there was anything else the couple required. The simple gentleman looked up at the highly polished servant of culinary excellence and politely asked for some A1 steak sauce. Without so much as blinking, the Maitre d’ immediately snapped back with, “right away sir”.

After a short period of time, the Maitre d’ rushed over to the couples table and opened a bag, revealing the A1 steak sauce the customer requested. Slightly out of breath, the Maitre d’ calmly pronounced “Your steak sauce sir.”

The gentleman looked up at the Maitre d’ and said, “why are you out of breath?” To which the Maitre d’ replied, “I had to run 5 blocks to the grocery store for your steak sauce.”

This restaurant didn’t even have A1 steak sauce and the Maitre d’ went and got it!

BE The Social Media Maitre d’

What did you learn from this story as it relates to social media marketing? I got a lot from it. Here are some things that stuck with me.

1) Stand out – Stop doing the same thing everyone else does. Stand out from the crowd in new and unique ways that deliver value to your audience.

2) Value, not price is incredible – Providing value in your streams, content and actions is what matters, not the price of your product or service.

3) Selfless is an action – Stop looking at what is in it for you and be selfless in your relationships in social media. Do this right and it will come back to you in so many ways it’s immeasurable.

4) Don’t belittle, just help – The Maitre d’ could have easily made this guy look and feel like a loser for wanting steak sauce, yet he didn’t. He did what was needed to help the man get what he wanted/liked. Most importantly he did it without belittling the man.

5) Be memorable – In everything you do in social media, do it in a way that your prospects, customers and connections never forget you. Make a memorable impression, over and over.

6) The customer isn’t always right – We could all argue that ruining an amazing, expensive steak with A1 is almost inexcusable, however who are we to say how someone else likes their food. Follow the example of keeping your opinion to yourself and just helping, therefore making them FEEL as though they are right.

7) Immediate action – Don’t wait, don’t think, don’t even ponder. Take action toward a customers need, NOW.

8) Serving others is the highest reward – No need to embellish this at all.

There are many more things that could be added to this list, but these are the main points I wanted to impress upon you, as they impressed upon me. As you continue your week, remember this incredible Maitre d’ as you engage with customers, prospects and connections in social media. Let your actions speak loud, your customer service stand apart and value trump your profitability.

disclaimer: I tried my very best to find the actual story, but despite my best searches, (I even tried using Google instead of my Bing) I was unable to locate it. So I apologize for not providing credit to the originator, but I tried to stay true to what I remembered and made a valiant effort to find it.

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Filed under Community, customer service, Marketing, Relationship, Restaurant, Results, Social Media Marketing

The Drastic Difference Between Social Selling And Spam

Social Selling continues to gain popularity as a term and an action within the social media marketing space. Social selling has many definitions, but I like the one by @JulioVisko in a Social Media Today article from 2012 that says “staying connected with your prospects and build a relationship with them that goes beyond a vendor toward a trusted advisor.” The key word here is relationship, not selling, something often misunderstand by online marketers and brands alike.

Correct me if I am wrong, but we are all experiencing an increase in Social Selling VS Spamwhat I consider to be the opposite of social selling, under the guise of the often misunderstood phrase. Many newer social media applications are gaining popularity that purport to “find prospects that need your product/service and automate or suggest responses” that supposedly increase “engagement” and sales. Sounds really good, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

All, if not most of these applications are developed by gear-heads that have incredible programming skills, but little to no social media marketing experience or understanding. What results is the numerous @ mentions we are all experiencing when we tweet a specific word or phrase from brands, marketers and twitter accounts we have had ZERO engagement with. It’s simply a search for and respond with function that fills the social graph with noise, frustration and inappropriate sales messaging that has nothing to do with social.

Recently I had a Skype call with the CEO of one such technology company. The demo and call didn’t go very well as you can imagine, and actually degraded into an argument over what social media marketing actually is. This brilliant programmer’s company has tons of logo’s of major brand customers and news sites “validating” how awesome his technology is, which magnifies the problem even further. The individual argued that it is perfectly fine for brands and marketers to use technology to find “prospects” and @ mention them with a specific offer of their products, even if they have never followed, engaged or connected with the twitter account previously.

Well, I vehemently and respectfully disagree. Where I come from, we call that spam. You know, the unwanted and unrequested direct contact by a person or brand you don’t know, soliciting a product or service you did not want information about. Easily recognized in our email inbox, yet regrettably it is overlooked as acceptable by the inexperienced in social media.

What is social selling and how do you do it properly?

In a word, social selling is relationships. It is derived from connections and conversations within social networks with prospects for your products and services that start and end around building a long-term relationship. It is providing selfless value to your prospect community and earning the opportunity to “pitch” what you do.

Can you target prospects in social selling?

Absolutely you can and SHOULD! Use tools, searches and hashtags to find your target audience or prospects that need what you do, then connect and communicate with them about anything other than what you do. Show interest in them and what they do and most importantly ensure that the content you are sharing is interesting and relevant to THEM, not exclusively pitching what you do.

Social selling and spam are at opposite ends of the spectrum of effective social media marketing.

One is targeted, sustainable and long-term, one is not.

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Filed under App, Brand, Community, Hashtag, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Spam, Twitter

Social Media Content And The Social Selling Process [INFOGRAPHIC]

Content is so incredibly important in social media marketing. Many marketers and sad to say social media agencies don’t realize the true impact it has on getting to the all important return on investment results that are often missed. Social media content is a crucial part of the “social selling” process as well, so I decided to put together a little infographic on a process we use to show how content starts everything!

Social Selling InfographicOf course every business and industry is different and some of the steps and details will need to be adjusted for your specific brand. The important thing to note is that content drives the social selling process. Content is what starts conversations with your target audience.

There are few important steps I want to point out:

1) Content – Where it all starts. You need to know the topics your audience are interested in, then find and post articles, news and information that is valuable to them. You need to have enough of that content posted throughout the entire day, so that whenever your audience is online, one of your posts is seen.

*the quantity of posts per day varies from social network to social network. For example you would post much more frequently on Twitter than your personal Facebook page. You would post much less frequently to your company Facebook page than your personal Facebook page. Then of course there is LinkedIn, Google Plus etc…

2) Conversations – These are what build relationships. No matter whether you are a BtoB (Business to Business) service company, or a local restaurant, people tend to do business with people they feel they know and like. Since conversations build relationships, this is key to the social selling process. The content you are sharing should be so relevant, interesting and valuable to your audience that they like, comment and/or share it. That opens the door to a thank you and a personal or business question or conversation.

*be sure to focus the bulk of your conversations with those that are prospects for your product and service. Spending time in conversations with a dad in Ohio, when you are a local beauty shop in Texas doesn’t further your sales efforts. That doesn’t mean ignore those that are not prospects, just use common sense and your time wisely.

3) Explain – When a follower asks about you or what you do, you are now in selling mode. This looks very different from one business type to another. Give a short answer and always include a link to your brief video, marketing piece or webpage that you have previously designed for this specific purpose.

Be sure to only do this with someone you know is a prospect for your product/service.

*be prepared with posts that are already written to cover the various questions you might get and edit them specifically for the person you are speaking to at that moment.

4) Next Step – Do you know ahead of time what the next step is or should be in the social selling process? If you are a restaurant, do you have a special to hand off to someone to get them to come in? Does your BtoB service company have a demo procedure you can immediately plug into with the person? Do you schedule time on your calendar for soft invites for “Let’s talk” or “we should talk” options right at that moment?

Know exactly what your options are and what works, then drive down the appropriate path with each relationship as the conversation lends itself.

5) Ongoing – Whether or not the person/company becomes a customer after going through the social selling process, you will always want to go back to monitor and engage. If you have established a relationship and know they are a prospect for you, monitor their activity for opportunities to share their content and/or engage in additional conversation. This goes for those that become customers and those that do not. I can’t stress this enough.

As you review the social selling process inforgraphic and the details I have outlined here, you should be asking yourself a few questions.

  • Is the content we are sharing interesting to our audience?
  • Are we getting frequent comments, likes and shares from our community every day, all day?
  • Is the engagement we are getting from prospects for our product or service?
  • Do we know which followers/fans in our community are our prospective customers?

If the answer is no to any of these four questions, your content strategy, topics, frequency and targeting is most likely off and needs considerable adjustment. Additionally, appropriate social CRM solutions should be immediately employed to enable you to better focus time and efforts on the right conversations with the right people.

P.S. – Don’t SPAM!  That is all… :-)

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Filed under Community, Facebook, Fanpage, Followers, Infographic, Marketing, Monitoring, Relationship, Social content management, Social CRM, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Social Selling, Strategy, Twitter

Important Elements Of An Agency Social Media Proposal – Part 2 of 5 – The Commitment

In the first post of this series about an Agency Social Media Proposal, we covered The Meeting. The in’s and out’s of the face-to-face or at least via phone conversation about the client, their social media marketing and detailed education around requirements, budgets and the like. Let’s move forward…

At this point, you have provided the prospective client with the reasons they should be using social media, what social media is and the bad position there are in at the moment by being so far behind the curve. You have also educated them on the complexity and massive human and knowledge requirements of conducting a social media marketing program effectively and positioned you and your company as the obvious solution. Finally, you have detailed the cost of your services and what you will be doing to make their brand effective within their market.

You have listened, answered any questions and further educated them as necessary about building a large, targeted community, etc. What you must do now is get the commitment to move forward with their program.  How do you that you ask?  Well… you ask!

Get The Commitment:

Very simply ask them when they would like to get started. Seriously, you need to get a commitment here. Often times the client will have a lot more questions at this point, so you will need to remain focused,  patient and provide deeper detail and answers. Then, ask them again.  “Does this all sound good?”

Typically you are going to end up in one of two situations at this point…

1) They agree to your program.

At this point you will want to quickly recap the terms of payment, pricing and what you will be doing next. What you will be doing next is getting them the proposal to sign. You see, the proposal is not a pitch document you send out to any and all, it is your closing document. More on that in Part 4 (The Template)

You will want the first months payment (highly suggest via credit card for ALL payments) at that point if you are smart. Let them know that the proposal “agreement” will be sent over detailing all of the things you discussed. They will need to sign and return it to you promptly with first payment if not received at the meeting.

Congrats on your new client!!!

2) They stall.

At this point some prospects will stall. They will use excuses, questions, and reasons as to why they can’t now, etc. Some of the comments you will receive are:

1) I need to talk to my partner

2) We need to wait until (month) to start this

3) We are too busy to get it going right now

Your job is to determine that REAL reason they are stalling. In many cases it will be the money. They either don’t really have it right now or are worried about spending it. In either case, start asking detailed questions about their existing marketing expenses. Find out what they are currently spending money on that is not effective and can be redirected to social media.

If there is some other logical reason they are stalling you will need to make a decision. Are they really interested? Are they too nice to tell me they are not going to do it? Are they not going to be in a position to afford what is required?

Anything other than a confident yes on number one, should get you politely moving out the door. Recapping our rule #1 from The Meeting states we are not going to waste our time generating a custom proposal for them. So we make sure they have our information and business card and we politely move to our next prospective client.

If we have convinced ourselves that they are indeed interested, we nail down a next appointment where we can get it started. When we arrive for the next appointment, we will have the proposal in hand and close them after a recap and Q & A.

The next post will discuss the key elements to include in the proposal/agreement itself.

Social Media Proposal – Part 1

What to Include – Part 3

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Filed under Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing