Social Media

Free Tools to Rev Up Your Lead Capture Strategies in 2015

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The New Year rang in some wonderful free tools ideal for lead-capture, conversions and putting muscle behind your social media posts.  Here are two reviews for Snip.ly and SumoMe, both free and both worth your time.

Snip.ly:  I took App Sumo’s new tool, Snip.ly out for a test-run this afternoon, and I’ve gotta say, this tool has some serious power.  They’re doing a free one-year subscription to the Pro package and I suggest you get it while it’s hot – (it’s a $300 value) and no, I don’t have an affiliate link to them… (yet…)  Here’s a quick 4-minute video showing you the back-end:

Snip.ly not only abbreviates your long urls, but it allows for embedding a call-to-action button right onto your landing page with a one-two punch.  I used it to promote my affiliate hosting site, Midphase with their 40% off sale and my tutorials for Serif WebPlus.  It allowed me to promote BOTH pages on 1 post in both Facebook and Twitter (now how cool is that??)

SumoMe:  I’ve gotta admit, this one was a little confusing (still is…) in that I don’t always see the lead capture box show up on my website.  I put a device up on my home page (lemme know if you see the bugger…) to give away my free report, “The Top (Dirt-Cheap) Tools I Use to Get Noticed Online.” Some leads have come in, but not an avalanche. In all fairness, I haven’t promoted this to the max – I may use the power of Snip.ly to drive traffic to my pages that house the SumoMe lead-capture device and see if that works a bit better.  Nonetheless, it is easy to install, just not always easy to see it all the time, especially if you’ve put in commands that it only show once a month so as not to pester loyal followers of your website or blog.  Here’s the scoop on SumoMe and a few other GREAT tools:

So if you’re playing with your website over the weekend, take these two tools out for a spin and let me know what you think of them in the comments below.

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A Girl Named Tsu – A Social Media Platform that Pays You Back

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Got Clicks - Tell Me, Tell the WorldI know, I know – I groaned too when I heard there was yet another social media platform to play with.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have a problem with Facebook ads.  I DO have a problem with them owning all of my content.  I DO think the way they monetize by boosting your post is cumbersome.  I like how YouTube uses AdSense and rewards you for good content.  That’s how it should be done and happily, Tsu has taken this to a higher level.

I’m promoting my new program Tell Me – Tell the World where I teach you how to create your own lead capture devices to get more clients.  I was about to post about it on LinkedIn when Caleb Wright’s FANTASTIC review of Tsu hit my screen.  Do yourself a favor and read his whole blog, watch the videos, they’re worth your time.

Here’s a quick video showing you how to setup your Tsu.  Go ahead, sign up and follow me on Tsu.  Let’s see how much we can bank together.

Playing Solitaire with Your Business

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The Click Retreat happens this September.  Details at FindTheClick.com
Fold. Shuffle. Play Again.

I’m getting ready for the retreat I’m teaching called The Click in mid-September.  Someone private messaged me on Facebook and it took me awhile to respond back to her.  Here’s what she asked:

“I’ve been in business for 7 years now and it’s been rough.  The recession, banks not lending and my credit score taking a nosedive have made me think I need to get a job, but no one will hire me.  Okay, they’ll hire me, but not at a living wage.  So I’ve been dealt a bad hand and I’m trying to make the best of it.  Will The Click help?”

Wow.  I wish I knew the answer to that one.  I can guide, set up a marketing plan, build a website and e-commerce stuff, but no one knows how to deal with a bad hand… or do we?

I put my cell phone down and picked up a deck of cards.  I played the only game I know next to “Go Fish,” and that’s “Solitaire.”

So I dealt a hand.  And I lost.

I dealt a second.  And I lost.

I dealt a third.  And I won.

So what did I do once I had won?  I dealt again.  And I had one of those “aha” moments.  Whether I win or lose, the result was the same:  I dealt again.  Why?

“Hey Vin, what do you do when you lose a game of solitaire?”

“I deal again.”

“And what if you win?”

“I deal again.  But I don’t play it like you do.”  This gave me pause.

“How do you play?”  I pushed my cards aside and he showed me the solitaire game on his phone.  “Each time I play, I accrue points, so it gives me more incentive to keep playing.”  Accrue points; experience.  Each time you play, you learn, right?

Keep playing… So no matter whether you win or lose at Solitaire, we fold up the cards, shuffle, and play again.  Just like in business.  I remember when I had my corporate handcuffs and how people discouraged me from starting my own business.

“Business is risky – work in the cable industry.”  So I worked for Adelphia.  And they folded.

Deal the cards.  Shuffle.  Play again.

And I created (and re-created) Got Clicks along with many other companies.  Some did very well, some not so well.  But I kept playing and learning and accruing not points, but knowledge and experience on how to do it right more quickly.

Ready to Play?

Here are some tips on getting it right in your business:

Stop Putting Cats in Dresses:  My last blog post talks at length about this and it’s the number one reason businesses fail – lack of customer research.  Do your customers want what you have to offer?  Ask the RIGHT questions and learn what your clients are hungry for.

Simplify Your Messaging:  Stop talking over your audience’s head.  How do you describe your business?  “I do Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Management and build websites and landing pages,” was how I used to lead my elevator pitch and I found people would nod and politely walk to the cash bar.  I now say “I help businesses get noticed online.”  Much less scary, more engaging and memorable.

Make it Easy:  Make it easy for a customer to buy from you.  Think about how you want your customer to receive your product or services.  Is your website concise?  Is it easy to understand what you have to offer?  Do you engage with the right people on your social media?  Are you on social media with a purpose or on there because somebody told you to be there?

Success is not defined by how much money you make, the money you make is directly related to how much success you accrue.  If it doesn’t work? Fold. Shuffle. Play Again.

Pulling Yourself Up After Depression

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10534302_10202871072639620_3481078607123130324_nAfter sleeping on friends’ couches, bunking in spare rooms, having our dog mark her new territory at the most inappropriate times, I finally came to the end of my patience.  I snapped.  I cried.  I felt disoriented – muddled and couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag even if I wanted to.  Chaos gives you the gift of seeing what really matters and my First Mate, Vinny, is at the top of the list.  We have stepped into the unknown and it is as terrifying as it is empowering.  As I broke down for the 1,000th time, Vinny quietly brought me out in the kayak onto Lake Rescue (yes, it really is called Lake Rescue…) and pulled my boat up alongside his.  “We’re in this together – I’m sorry if my words hurt you earlier today, but I love you very much.”  Stinging words, lashing out, endless crying jags, lack of sleep and mountains of stress result in one winged-out Sarah.  It is at these times when things are at their darkest; when you question everything including the point of your own existence.

I’ve never met Cheryl Hanna, the law professor who was a popular commentator on WCAX who recently committed suicide.  I don’t watch TV, so I can’t say I’ve ever seen or heard her before.  But I can certainly feel her – that dark, lonely place where no matter what you do, you just can’t pull yourself out of a long, dark depression.

Eva Sollberger’s post rang true, brave and honest.  She wrote:

“So I’m taking off my social media mask for a moment to be as human as I know how to be. Let’s be kind to each other as we all try to figure this beautiful and sometimes terrifying life out.  Rest in peace Cheryl. You fought so hard and accomplished so much. You make us brave.”

While I’m not sure if Cheryl’s action made me feel brave; Eva’s tender commentary did make me think.

A lot.

Do we really need to wear a mask on social media?  Is it all too real for those of us who show our persona’s in the public hot lights – where the cloak of social anonymity somehow makes the timid say the most rancid comments, all in the sake of “being honest?”  Cheryl was concerned someone would “find out” about her illness and “take her down.”  So she (and many of us,) continue to mask it until it spills out in the weirdest ways.  There’s a fine line between being “honest” and being hurtful.  I used to tell my son, it’s so much better to be kind than clever – especially in the world of social media. But then, what a world if we all ran around as mindless Pollyanas with our rose colored glasses slipping down our collective noses as we pass judgement upon those who dare to say, “I’m having a really shitty day.”  You can choose joy all day long, but eventually, it sounds hollow, fake and lacks the altruism originally intended.  I’m not saying to be a Debbie Downer or Pollyana – I AM saying… be honest.  Post with integrity.

I love posts that make me think, and especially the ones that make me FEEL… No, I don’t know Cheryl, but I really appreciated Eva’s brave, honest words – letting down the costume mask and sharing a commonality those of us who have dealt with depression endure.  That’s when it stops being social media and starts being human.

Lake Rescue continues to resuscitate me, but it’s always nice to have someone pull your kayak up alongside them when you’re too tired to row against the tide.  Thanks, Eva, you’ve made me more mindful to write what matters, what makes me feel and stay true to it.  We need to be kinder by helping each other navigate safely to shore or to pull each other up when we drift off course.

 

Finding Your Voice – A Social Media Crash Course

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Find The Click - Stand Out in Social Media
Stand Out in Social Media

I’m working with a few clients who have gone to my 2-day retreat, The Click and we’re doing the second of 12 follow-up sessions.  Every one of them wants to rush right to the social media piece.  The conversations all start the same:

“Sarah, when will we talk about Facebook?”

“We can talk about it right now.  Why do you want to be there?”

“My daughter says I HAVE to be there.”  She sighs, resigned to the fact that technology has robbed her of the human touch – the face-to-face communication she relished in her 27 years in the corporate sector.  A handshake and a contract were her symbols of success.

“Maybe you don’t need to be on Facebook at all.” I reply.

“I don’t??”  I hear her voice brighten.  It happens with each of my clients over 50 – most have been in corporate jobs and social media belongs in the realm of their teenage sons and daughters.  Or, of those who have wa-ay too much time on their hands.

“It’s just so much drivel.  I don’t like everyone knowing my business – it’s so intrusive.”

“Yes, it can be.  So can a diner.”

“A diner?  What does a diner have to do with Facebook?”

When I was a kid, after we worked the horses on the track, we headed over to the local Dunkin Donuts for our reward – a donut and steaming mug of hot chocolate.  Walt, the owner of the racehorses, always had the newspaper open and he’d read our horoscopes aloud.  The banter would begin – “Oh so THAT’S why you’re in a mood this morning.”  We’d all laugh and poke fun at each other.  We’d find other stories about the horses, the track, the cold, the heat.  Year-round, it was our ritual.  I don’t hit the track anymore, or even a newspaper.  But I do hit Facebook for pretty much the same thing – engagement.

Just like when you walk into Barnes and Noble for the first time – it’s OVERWHELMING.  Yet, when you see the sections that interest you, you can easily get lost for hours perusing books and magazines that pique your interest.  Not a bookstore fan?  How about a hardware store?  Send me over to the paint chips and I can easily amuse myself.  Once you learn the tools you can use on social media to hone in on your interests, then it starts to make sense.  You can find all kinds of people who share your interests and that’s where it can become not only beneficial to your business, but it can be (gasp…) FUN!

So no, don’t force yourself to endure social media, find the reason why you WANT to be there, not why you HAVE to be there.  Find someone who can show you the ropes.  Follow (or “like”) people who you resonate with, who have something interesting to share.  Most importantly, don’t make it all about promoting your business – the secret to social media success is sharing other people’s success.  On my Got Clicks Facebook page, most of the posts you’ll see on there are about what my clients are up to. They have so many fascinating stories, I love to share what they’re up to.

So how do you sort through the drivel to enjoy the divine?  Here are some tips to navigate Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (it’s long, but useful.)

Twitter: 

  • What is it for? Best used for headlines or short news.  Only 160 characters, so short and sweet is key.
  • # (hashtag) is used to search for conversations like #babyboomers, #loa, #abrahamhicks.
  • @ sign is used to include people in a conversation so they can be “tagged” in your post and see your comment.  It’s also used to search for people @gotclicksbiz for example, finds Got Clicks and Sarah Spencer.
  • bit.ly or goo.gl – Use these tools to abbreviate long urls so they fit inside Twitter’s parameters
  • Lists – Great for organizing people you have in common (ie I have a list of “Marketing Gurus.”)  You can find List in the upper right corner where the gear is.  Click on the gear and you’ll see how to create your list.

How do I communicate on Twitter?

  • Reply – If someone makes a comment, you can click “reply” to engage in a conversation.
  • Retweet – This is the same as “sharing” a post.
  • Favorite – Similar to the “Like” button on FB if you don’t have anything else to say.
Why would I use Twitter for Business?
 
  • When you want to test a specific market to see how active it is (ie #babyboomers, #tires, etc.)
  • When you want to tweet about a time-sensitive event, such as a conference, you can find others who are experiencing the same conference by using #nameofyourconference, and meet them for coffee, lunch, etc.  Great for impromptu connecting at an event.
  • When you have writer’s block for your blog, website, presentation, etc. and you need inspiration.  Just pull up your list of gurus you enjoy and become inspired from their posts all in one place.
LinkedIn:
 
  • What is it for?  Business networking, finding a job and finding customers if you are in the b-to-b sector.
  • @ sign is used to include people in a conversation that may be relevant or for searching.
  • Posts – Found on the left-hand drop down next to the search box.  This is AWESOME for finding articles relevant to your industry (ie “55+ entrepreneurs, babyboomers,)
  • Groups – Great way to connect to people you need in your circle of influence.  Find a contact you’d like to know better, scroll down on their profile.  Search for groups you may have in common and join the group. Then, when you click “Connect,” when asked how you know them, in the drop down, you can say you have a group in common to get the conversation rolling.
How do I communicate on LinkedIn?
 
  • Post links to blogs relevant to your industry.
  • Participate in groups with thoughtful questions to encourage participation.
  • Service, service, service.  Always be looking for how you can serve OTHERS, not necessarily yourself.
  • Formal – business only.  This is NOT where you post what you had for breakfast or how you partied hearty.
Why would I use LinkedIn for Business?
 
It makes connection on a business level very easy.  It shows you as the expert in your industry.  Definitely the place to show and tell what you know for the benefit of other peers in your industry or in industries you wish to sell into.
Facebook:
 
  • What is it for?  Think of Facebook as your local diner.  All characters from all walks of life enter in with the good, the bad and the ugly.  Real Estate agents, car salespeople, generally anyone who sold used to swear by visiting the local diner on a daily basis to get the heartbeat of the neighborhood. Now?  It’s Facebook.
  • @sign is used to include people in a conversation that may be relevant or for searching.
  • # (hashtag) is used to search for conversations like #babyboomers, #loa, #abrahamhicks.
  • Personal Page – You must have a personal page first before having a business page.
  • Business Page – Can be accessed either in the drop-down on the upper right or the left side of your page.

How do I communicate on Facebook?

  • Comment with links back to your blog or website.
  • Comment on posts relevant to you.
  • Like comments you agree with.
  • Ignore idiocy.
  • Remember your mother – don’t say or post anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother.
  • It’s always better to be kind than clever.
  • 80/20 rule:  80% interesting, relevant articles.  20% selling your stuff.
Why would I use Facebook for Business?
  • People buy people.  Facebook shows you have depth as a person and not necessarily always pushing your business.
  • ALWAYS make certain you’re clear on who you’re posting as, your business or personal before posting.
  • If you find you’re not getting a lot of views on your business page, you can always share it using your personal page.
  • Facebook is VERY social (which can make an introvert run for the hills.)  The key to the Magic Facebook Kingdom is the power of numbers.  The more likes, the better your chances are of being heard.  The more interaction?  The more likely your post will be seen in others’ news feeds.
  • If you’re new to the game, “like” some pages who have 500 or more “likes” and see how they play the game first.  See if they’ll share a link you’ve offered to their audience to grow your own.
  • Contests- Great way to build your fan base.  Rafflecopter offers a platform and it’s free.  Make sure your prize in RELEVANT to what you sell.  Otherwise, you’ll just get “junk” posts.
Hootsuite
 
  • What is it for?  Use it to write for all your social media under one umbrella.  You can easily put all your posts for the week on a Sunday night while watching TV.
  • You can post across all platforms or select one or two depending upon relevance.
  • Short stuff – Twitter Feeds.  Business oriented:  LinkedIn & FB Biz Page  Interesting Pics:  FB Personal.
  • Abbreviated Links – Hootsuite  automatically shortens long urls for you.
  • Scheduling – VERY important.  Know when your audience is on.  I find 7:10 am for some reason is a great time for me to post.  Experiment and watch your stats to see when you have the most engagement and make it a habit to connect with your audience on a regular basis.
  • RESPOND – For goodness sake, respond if someone’s kind enough to like or comment on your post.  See what they’re up to and share their stuff if it’s relevant and important.  The worst you can do is let a whole week go by and not check your inbox.  Respond just as if these were customers calling you on the phone.  Because one day, if you play your cards right, they will be.

I’m offering my 2-day retreat and 12-one-on-one internet marketing sessions with The Click this coming late August – September.  I would love to see you join us.  It’s designed to help you hone the messaging of your business to help you find “raging cookie fans,” people who want, need and are willing to pay you for your products and services.  Check out the 5 minute video and see if it’s a good fit for you here.

The CEO and Social Media – A Tricky Walk

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CommentI recently worked with a large Vermont company to obtain a contract to manage social media for them.  One of the topics that came up repeatedly surrounded the ethics a public company faces when posed with less-than-flattering posts from trolls.  How do you handle it?

I had this question come up when I taught a seminar in Lake George where competition between hotels and B and B’s is fierce.  Many of them relayed stories about competitors posting negative reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor.  So what DO you do?  Is the response for a small hotel or BnB in Lake George different than what I would advise a large, publicly traded company?  Suddenly, my ethical compass was tied in a knot.  As I went sans sandwich or bathroom break and we were closing in on 6 hours of grilling, the magical question came up.

“If faced with a negative comment on our social media page, how would you handle it?” I was asked as my potential new client leaned forward.

“It depends.”  I said. “Is it a common problem that more than one person has posed?  If so, you may want to address it internally and then respond on your social media outlets.  But it needs to be communicated clearly internally so the message is well thought out before broadcasting on social media. However, don’t sit on it for a week – Social Media is immediate and demands attention or you’ll be seen as uncaring in the face of adversity.”

My interviewer leaned back in their chair with a decided frown briefly crossing her face.

“No, that’s not how we work here.  We are a publicly traded company.”

“So, what do you do?”

“Nothing.  We don’t respond.”

Wow.  She explained it further to me,

“If we give attention to someone complaining on our social pages, it leaves us open for liability.”

“Do you offer to reach out to them offline via email or customer service line?”

“No.  We also do not post news stories that are unflattering to our customers.”

I shifted in my chair.  If it’s a troll and they just post on a large corporate entity’s page to get more attention,I agree, do nothing; most intelligent people will understand that the person’s not worth your time.  What’s even sweeter is if you’ve taken the time to cultivate a loyal following of your brand, many of THOSE customers will step up to the plate and address it for you – establishing something that money simply can’t buy and that’s customer loyalty.

However, in a situation where there is genuine customer dis-satisfaction, my gut just tied in knots over their answer of doing – nothing. If you make a mistake in your company? Fix it.  If it adversely affects others?  Tell them.  Fast.  Give them an idea when you’ll be able to solve it just as Buffer did a few weeks ago when they were compromised.    Posting unflattering stories of your clients I don’t recommend, but I also don’t think it’s right to bury your head in the sand, either.  Does your customer know the story’s out there?  What’s their take on it?  Perhaps you could offer a platform to your customer that the traditional news media hasn’t given?  It’s a slippery slope for a CEO to determine what is released into the Wild, Wild, Web.  That’s why Buffer’s story is so wonderful:

1)  The CEO addressed the issue directly.

2)  They responded within 10 minutes of the breach.  On a weekend.

3)  They could have lost customers, but instead, they gained the magic glue that’s been holding companies together long before the Internet:  TRUST.

Yes, if you have a chronic Negative Nellie posting on your wall and it’s minor, let it go.  However, if it is customer-affecting, is seen as a sore-spot and you can take action to resolve it, take action.

Planning Posts Prevents Poor P.R.

Get your ducks in a row internally first, so that you have a game plan. Then, by all means, communicate with those who put you in the driver’s seat in the first place – your customers.

 

Facebook – Are You There? Should You Be?

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About a year ago, I spent so much time extolling the features of our products (Social Media Management, Search-Engine Friendly websites, ) showing my vast knowledge of Internet Marketing that I would miss the tell-tale signs of client burn-out:  eyes glazing over, arms crossed, leaning back in the chair and looking out the window wishing they were anywhere but in my office… What did I miss?  Showing my customers not only the WHY of social media (they already know it intuitively) but the HOW?

I saw this happen at a recent workshop I observed on Social Media.  It was excellent material and I was completely enthralled.  However, I heard questions from the audience that I didn’t feel were answered:

  • I don’t have TIME to manage Facebook – I really don’t want a second full-time job.
  • How do I know if anybody sees my posts on Facebook? (ie, ‘is this mic on?’)
  • How do I get people to “Like” my page?

Granted, you can’t always answer everyone’s needs in a one-hour workshop.  However, showing slides of statistics, graphs and quotes will do nothing but disengage your audience. Business owners already know they need to be on social media; they just don’t know the how yet.

Time Management:  Pick ONE that you love to post on – Facebook or Twitter and TIE them together.  That way, you post on one and it’ll show on the other.  Now, I realize there are pros out there who will squawk at this advice and you are absolutely right – in a perfect world, ALL the posts should be unique.  However, we live in the real world where time is money.  Tie them together – save yourself a headache.  The other nifty tool?  Hootsuite.  It posts to all of your networks. You can schedule your whole week out in advance.  Just make sure you check in daily to see if any new comments are in.

Getting Posts Noticed:  With all the algorithm changes, it IS very hard to get professional pages showing in newsfeeds.  I’ve found if I share my posts from my Got Clicks page onto my personal Facebook page, it helps with the number of people who see it.  If I have a seminar, I ask friends that I think would benefit to share it on their pages.  I shared fun photographs of my friends supporting one of my seminars (you’ll see the Selfie my good friend, Jerry took of him hanging one of my posters for my upcoming seminar in Middlebury and Williston).  If it’s fun, interesting and gets the point across, go ahead and post it!

Getting Likes to a Page:  Let’s say you don’t have a ton of friends on your personal page in Facebook, let alone your business page.  Find friends of yours who do have a regular following and ask them to recommend your page.  Another way is to have an offer – “Like” my page and get a gift certificate to ______”  Make it relevant to your business.  If it’s a gift card to Starbucks, so what?  But if it’s a discount to one of your products or services, it does 2 things:  allows people to check out your stuff and gets them buying with an upsell opportunity.

It’s Not All About YOU…  Don’t forget to LIKE other pages that compliment your business!  Not only should you “Like” them – COMMENT on their stories.  Chances are, they’ll comment back, or be more likely to share your content.  Don’t be spammy, be relevant.

Something in Common:  Find companies that compliment what you already do.  This is easily accomplished in Twitter.  Simply type in one of your keywords with a # in front:  #social media #paintedfurniture.  Do this and you’ll see which companies commented most recently.  Follow these pages, then look them up on Facebook to have a cross-promotion.

BUT… You could do ALL of this and STILL have no “Likes” to your business page.  Why?  Because you may have missed the most important lesson of entrepreneurship that no Facebook page, no blog – heck, no website could ever fix.  If you’d like to learn what that is, don’t miss “Got Clients” workshop.  The next session is listed HERE.