How Does Social Media Make Money for You?

trust-agentsSmall- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly asking how they can create a presence on Facebook and other social media sites. But they should also be asking how that presence will make them money. If Facebook or any other type of media doesn’t help you make money, it simply isn’t working correctly for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean the media is wrong, but it likely means you’re not using the media correctly. This is as true of newspaper and TV advertising as it is of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

I recently attended a webinar by Chris Brogan, a well-known and respected modern media guru and author of the 2010 best-selling book Trust Agents – Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust. More recently, he’s published the book The Impact Equation subtitled “Are you making things happen, or just making noise?” With 112,464 Google+ followers and 7,062 Facebook likes, you’d think Brogan would be a raving social media fanatic. But, in a recent talk sponsored by Market Wire, an online PR distribution service, Brogan stated, “My bank gives me no loans based on Facebook likes.” And therein lies a huge story.

In an earlier post, Shannon Miranda wrote about Mike Blinder  author of Survival Selling Even in The Toughest Times. Blinder has been known to say most small business websites and Facebook pages are tantamount to having a billboard in a basement. Their digital presence doesn’t work for two key reasons: First because no one sees their page, and secondly because no one would want to. Many SMBs are crazed to get a Facebook page, fearful they may be missing out on some important and cheap social media marketing tool and may get left behind. But even if  you have 7,000 fans like Brogan does, how can it be monetized so a bank loan officer cares when you come a calling? More importantly, how does a small business use Facebook and all the other social media platforms to drive business and create revenue?

It’s worth studying Brogan. If you go on his website, Facebook site, or Google+, you’ll see he’s dedicated to educating people about his areas of expertise. Then, he makes sure his most loyal followers are aware of his offerings and get the best deals on things that he sells from speaking engagements to book sales to online courses. That revenue is what he  shows to his banker for mortgage financing and other financial ventures.

How does this apply to you? 

Let’s pretend you’re a local jeweler and have a Facebook site. Are you merely posting coupons for jewelry or creating posts that hype ongoing sales? Or, instead, are you teaching people about gold and diamonds and new jewelry designers? Can you occasionally post a coupon? Sure, but most SMBs only post sales notices and very few help educate the public, or position themselves as experts in their field.

What’s the better question? “How can I position my business as the go-to resource in my area of expertise for my  community of motivated clients?” Facebook and Google+ will likely be part of the answer, but only a part.

The Walk-away:  The key to business marketing is not more marketing, or even more social media marketing. It’s knowing the right question to ask and then getting it answered both for your own positioning and to drive the right customers to walk in your door.

The Public Relations Value in Disaster Recovery

This past Sunday, the ACHLA sponsored a walk to highlight the vibrancy of the Atlantic City boardwalk post Sandy. News coverage around the nation left the impression that the boardwalk had been decimated. Nothing could be farther from the truth either in AC or OC – Ocean City. Both boardwalks are open for business. But, as Al Reis and Jack Trout noted in their now classic book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, once an idea takes hold it’s hard to unlodge.

That’s where the walk came in. It wasn’t to raise money. It was to raise awareness. If people stay away from Atlantic City and other boardwalk communities, the monetary damage from Sandy can be unnecessarily greater. Sandy was an Act of God. Bad PR is an Act of Mankind. Both require a concerted effort for real disaster recovery.

News coverage claims close to 600 people attended the Sunday walk. I was one of them. I can’t substantiate the number, but I can substantiate the energy on the boardwalk and the fact that almost everywhere you looked, the boardwalk was clean, undamaged, and open for business.

So when public perception is wrong, how do you go about changing it? The answer is an integrated, strong campaign. Advertising alone isn’t enough. But advertising combined with PR and a full marketing toolkit can be a powerful agent for change. PR takes spokespeople to talk to news organizations outside the area, press releases and targeted articles to travel publications and sites, and a full court press of social media and traditional media options.

And what about the Do AC ad campaign? It’s being run by some very smart people,who have already revamped to account for Sandy positioning. Their latest headline? “Nothing Can Hold Back The City Where Anything is Possible.” Why? Because, just promoting DoAC won’t work post-Sandy as no one wants to get away to someplace devastated in their minds. The key is to show, prove and entice people to see AC as it really is – and perhaps as a social responsibility for rebuilding NJ.

There’s a model out there already. It’s called Bourbon Street post Katrina. The Gulf Coast made sure to let people know it was open for business and that by visiting you were helping to rebuild New Orleans. It was almost a public duty to visit New Orleans in 2005. Emotion is a key factor in PR and advertising. Don’t be afraid to use it.

What can you do as a small business at the Jersey Shore? Use your email list to let customers know you’re open for business. Aggressively use your web site to foster sales. Post on all your social media sites with pictures to show ongoing vibrancy of your business. Entice people to help support the commercial growth of The Shore. Advertise to show you’re here to stay. Use emotion. Don’t be afraid to say Jersey Strong, or Rebuilding the Shore in your ads. It’s what people want to see happen. Show you’re a part of the fiber that makes the Jersey Shore a national treasure.

The Walk-away: Disaster happens. Don’t let it be the end of you. Stake your flag (or foot) in the sand and use advertising, PR, email, social media and every message channel open to you to encourage customers to come back sooner rather than later. Be Jersey Strong. As an aside, if your business is  a collection drop for any charity, please make sure the public knows by emailing an alert to PressitForward@PressofAc.com,  the new listing service also started on Sunday called PressItForward.

Ad Lessons from Political Campaigns – Part 2

‘Tis still the season of political advertising and now that both major party conventions are over, the real advertising begins. If you ever think the age of big media advertising is over, just check on political campaigns. Yes, modern campaigns now effectively use social media, BUT (and it’s a big BUT) in addition to mainstream media, not in replacement of it. Why?

Candidates Need to Be Credible.

Just because a candidate says he’s the greatest doesn’t cut it. People can too easily ignore that message

The key is gaining credibility in endorsements. It’s the reason candidates value them so highly. People like to know what others are thinking and endorsement lets them jump on a trusted bandwagon. Consider your business as a candidate for consumer trust and dollars. To gain their trust, or vote, you need to be credible.

How can you gain credibility? Do what the candidates do. Get interviewed, get written about, get quoted.

How to apply it: Read the business and other sections of your newspaper and look for opportunities to pitch yourself to the appropriate editor. If there’s a new business section, send the business editor a press release on your new opening. If there’s an ongoing feature on wellness, and your business is in fitness, let the editor know what your area of expertise is and how you can offer information that may be of use in a story.

Not sure how to get started? Contact a local PR pro. If you’re comfortable doing your own PR, just make sure you’re pitching the right people about your story or area of expertise. Here’s one way to electronically pitch a story to The Press. But the best way is to get a name and contact them directly.

THEN:  If you’re printed, promote your coverage. Put a quote in an ad; frame the article and hang it up in your business; tweet about it on Twitter, or post a link to the story in Facebook. You can now promote  your increased credibility just as the candidates do!

The Walk-away: People are more receptive to advertising messages from credible sources. Use third-party mentions  by a credible source as proof that you’ve got “great legs, and soon the rest of the community will be checking out your “legs” (ahem, ad claims) as well.