Tapping into the social media treasure chest

imageIf the heading looks familiar… it’s because you’ve seen it before! I was recently interviewed by Lexis®Commercial about the use of social media by law firms, and this heading is from Paul Caddy’s article.

Click here to see the full interview – while it focuses on law firms, the themes covered apply to all professional services firms:

1. Social media is fast becoming a hygiene factor in business

Can you imagine telling an important contact that you don’t have email? Can you visualise their reaction? Many will now look at you in the same way if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter account.

2. Social media is just another way to talk

At its heart, business is about relationships, and relationships are built on conversations. Conversations first became virtual via letters, then telephones and faxes, then emails… and now social media.

3. Find out what people are saying about you, your colleagues and your firm

Not being on social media doesn’t mean that you’re not being spoken about. Head over to Google and search. Next, see what bloggers are saying on Google Blog Search. Then go to Twitter and search there. Each result or conversation that you find is an opportunity to influence. If no-one is mentioning your firm, why not?   

4. Find out which platforms your clients and prospects are using

You don’t need to be everywhere. Discover where your contacts want to engage and prioritise those platforms. LinkedIn is your virtual shop front, Twitter the virtual cocktail party, and Facebook the virtual house party. Twitter is a very powerful platform for professionals. As with real-life networking events, you can join any conversation uninvited, as long as you have something relevant and/or amusing to add. You can also boost the ROI of events by integrating social media.

5. Think glass half-full

Some are afraid of social media because it’s public and real-time… which means that social media is searchable: you can find contacts and conversations of interest; reach a larger, yet more targeted, audience; and accelerate the know-like-trust-buy-advocate cycle. By demonstrating your expertise and personality, you can become the host of the virtual parties that matter to you – with opportunities and prospects coming to you, rather than you needing to find and pitch to them.

6. Plan your content, set a strategy

- What you are going to talk about? How will those topics be interesting to your target audience? Effective use of social media means creating content that is provocative… content that provokes a reaction so that readers want to share or engage. It’s better to have a strong opinion and be prepared to defend it rather than sit on the fence.
- Who will be the ‘faces’ of your firm on social media? What training will those individuals need? It may seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s not so long since people needed training on how to use faxes and emails!

Social Media for Estate Agents

imageIf you’re an estate agent planning to use social media, you may be thinking about using it to push an automated feed of property for sale.

STOP!

Don’t do it until you’ve read this…

We’ve been chatting recently to a great digital marketing company. One of the clients they are working with at the moment is an estate agent.

That got me thinking… If I were an estate agent how would I use social media to promote my business. I’d…

  • Write a blog about my local area
  • Write about the local schools
  • Get a cheap video camera and record short interviews with sellers talking about the best thing about living in their area
  • Provide easy ways (on my website) for sellers to share their property details on Facebook and Twitter
  • Post loads of photos of the area
  • Provide practical advice home movers
  • Write about local walks, with photos/video
  • Talk about the little known ‘gems’ of the area… The stuff you won’t find on RightMove or in guidebooks… The amazing local organic bakery, the great landlord at the Red Lion…
  • Write local pub reviews
  • Talk about local history
  • Support community events and promote them on my blog

I wouldn’t…

  • Talk about interest rates or the economy
  • Endlessly retweet links to property listings
  • Write self-interested, salesy content

What do you think?

To Google+, or Not To Google+

With Google opening up its Plus social networking service to brands last week, the question we have been considering is whether it’s worth our time actively using the new brand pages.

Let me say before going any further though, you should definitely reserve a page in Google+ for your brand. It only takes a couple of minutes to register your page and you’ll ensure you won’t get hijacked by brand squatters.

Now, onto the question at hand… is it worth time and investment to create and maintain a fully functioning presence?

We can get an insight into the relative popularity of each service by looking at data from the Share buttons that proliferate across the web these days. We can use this as an indicator of the relative importance of each service.

For our study we looked took a sample of news and tech news websites: BBC, CNN, Guardian, New York Times, The Telegraph, Mashable and EConsultancy. Of those, only the The Telegraph, Mashable and EConsultancy have added Google+ sharing to their site.

Next we took the top 5 stories from each site at the time we did the survey and looked at the number of shares on each service:

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Google+

Telegraph

       

968

577

54

16

60%

36%

3%

1%

Mashable

       

610

5211

1684

108

8%

68%

22%

1%

EConsultancy

       

43

311

39

22

10%

75%

9%

5%

So there you have it, according to our admittedly rather unscientific survey, Google+ represents less than 5% of sharing activity on sites that have a Google+ button, and a much smaller percentage of overall sharing activity given that most mainstream sites do not have a Google+ button.

On that basis we have decided not to spend time maintaining a Google+ page (yet).

Have you created a Google+ page? What results are you getting from it?

Why do people connect with brands on social media?

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Do people have different reasons to connect to brands on Facebook vs. Twitter? There were some startling differences highlighted in last week’s report from ExactTarget

For Facebook, the primary reasons are all about getting discounts and free stuff. For Twitter it’s all about information and keeping up to date.

This verifies what we have long suspected. If you’re a retailer, into discounts and daily deals, or you’re a B2C business, Facebook is the place to be. On the other hand, if want to position your brand as an authority in its industry, you’re a B2B business, or you sell bespoke services, Twitter is your more natural home.

Twitter and Facebook Demographics

I found this really great infographic in my RSS feed this week. The data is probably a year out of date (Twitter supposedly now have 200m users, Facebook 800m) but some interesting things here nonetheless.

  • There are more school kids on Facebook, more graduates on Twitter.
  • Facebook users are more likely to follow a brand, but Twitter users are more likely to buy from a brand they follow.
  • There are more women than men on both services.
  • Facebook users are more likely to login everyday, but Twitter users are more likely to post new updates everyday.

Enjoy.

Discover Where Your Clients Hang Out on Social Media

You want to use social media to market your business… But where and how should you start?

Should you spend your time on Twitter, Facebook or something else? And how do you begin to get followers and fans?

Starting from an email address, what you’d like to know is: Does my contact have a Facebook account? Do they have a Twitter account, LinkedIn account or any other social media site?

Of the major sites, only Facebook lets you search for a user specifically by email address.

Find a Person on Facebook by Email Address

You can search for someone of Facebook at www.facebook.com/search/php?q=<email>. For example, to find Robert Scoble on Facebook you’d enter http://www.facebook.com/search.php?q=scobleizer@gmail.com.

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Find People on Twitter and LinkedIn

Neither LinkedIn nor Twitter allow you to search for someone by email address. They both though allow you to import your contacts from various other services and automatically invite them all to join. That’s not necessarily what you want to do though. And what about all the other services out there? Google+, Flickr, YouTube, FourSquare… this list goes on.

If only there was a way to easily discover where your existing clients and contacts hang out on social media…

Social Profile Discovery

When we created CubeSocial’s social profile discovery service we wanted to solve just this problem. CubeSocial lets you to upload a list of email addresses, and then simply sit back while it does the hard work of searching the internet for social profiles and creating a contact cards for all your contacts, just like this one.

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What’s more, CubeSocial can locate social profiles on over 100 different services and then summarise where all your contacts are hanging out. This is the summary for our contacts:

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When we decided to use social media to connect with our clients we wanted to make sure we were spending our time (and money) in the most effective way. Now we are letting everyone else do that too.

If you haven’t already, give CubeSocial a try. It’s free to sign up. Then let us know what you think via @cubesocial or email.

The Facebook Places Opportunity

Facebook Places iPhoneIf you haven’t been paying attention Facebook announced Places* last week (see here for background and explanation).

Online checkin has become increasingly popular for NetGen users recently, with Foursquare leading the way. But now that Facebook has added this capability for its half a billion users, the dynamics of this market suddenly change.

Research shows that consumers trust recommendations from friends 2-3x more than other forms of online advertising. What this means is that there is an opportunity here for smart professional services firms to tap into Places for marketing purposes: Each time someone checks in at your business they are telling their friends about you. That’s free advertising for you!  So, think about how you can encourage that behaviour – perhaps you can just ask, or perhaps you could provide special offers to clients willing to do that. Then the next time someone exchanges contracts on their dream property, you’ll know that they have told all their Facebook friends about you!

(*) At the time of writing Facebook Places is a US only service, but Facebook has plans to roll it out globally as soon as possible.