25 Feb

Twitter as your Foot in the Door

How do you get 76% of your audience to say yes to your proposition?  First get them to say yes to a simple proposition aligned with their identity.  This at least is what a study conducted in the 1960’s seems to indicate.   Professors Freedman and Fraser from Stanford University got 76% of respondents to place a homemade billboard on their lawn.  How they did it was by approaching the respondents 2 weeks earlier and asking them to post a small 3 inch sticker on their window that said “Be a Safe Driver”.  When the researchers returned two weeks later and asked to place a “Be a Safe Driver” billboard on their lawn more respondents said yes when compared to the control group that was not first asked to place the small sticker. So how does this apply to Twitter?

Twitter is your “foot in the door”.  If you are trying to make a complex sale it is very easy for a prospect to say no to your sales pitch.  Imagine you call a prospect and ask them to buy your software, it’s easy to image that most people will answer “no thanks” even if they could benefit from what you have to offer.  Now imagine instead of asking to buy the software you simple call and ask if the prospect if they want to do better at what they do.  Who is going to say no to that?  With this small yes ask the prospect if they use any of the micro-blogging tools such as Twitter or LinkedIn.  If they answer yes to that you can now establish your foot in the door by adding them as a Twitter follower.

Here’s how my pitch might go: “Hello John, I know you are  a busy person and don’t have time for a sales presentation but I’m sure you want to make sure you are doing all you can to make your business a success.  I occasionally post helpful tips on Twitter/LinkedIn/Plaxo/Facebook.  Would you like to make sure you are receiving these tips that 100/200/300 other people in your role receive?”   This is not a fullproof script and it won’t get you a 100% success rate but I think you can agree that trying to get the small yes is easier than the big yes.

Once you have a prospect following you on Twitter, this could also work if you had a newsletter, you can take time to establish trust with the prospect.  With your foot in the door your next ask can be bigger.  You might be surprised by the results.

11 Feb

My Tweeting Strategy

I follow simple philosophy when it comes to using Twitter.  I want my tweets to:  Engage, Enlighten or Educate.  This can be described as:

  • engage – do something
  • enlighten – feel something
  • educate – learn something

To engage your followers you need to get them interested in taking some kind of action.  Typically you would be trying to poll your followers or learn something yourself.   Google recently bought Aardvark which is a service that allows you to post questions and get answers.  The answers aren’t always great but they can help point you in certain direction.

Who doesn’t like a good laugh?  Depending on your audience you could substitute Entertain for Enlighten.   A funny joke, a cute picture, a great video.  Those are examples of the kind of tweet that people enjoy reading.  It doesn’t have to be heavy but it shouldn’t be empty.  There has to be something in it for the reader.

It’s much easier to educate your followers in this context that you might think.  All you need to do is share the link to a good story.  Sharing links is a good way to demonstrate domain expertise.  Let someone else do the heavy lifting of writing the story.  All you need to do is point people to it.  I suppose it also means you have to be on the look out for quality stories which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

There are a variety of ways to get a sense of what people are tweeting about.  It is a good idea to look at these resources and get a feel for what your audience might appreciate.

When you are tweeting just remember to always make the tweet interesting to your audience.  If you do that you will have success in keeping your followers.

09 Feb

What do slut, kidnapping and death have in common?

If this was an email more people would have opened it because of the provocative words in the subject.  I’m not just saying that.  I know for a fact that if you use provocative words in the subject line of an email, or a blog post, you can get 6-7% more people to open the email.

Slut, kidnapping and death are three words that I included in the three separate subject lines for a weekly email newsletter that I worked on.  These words are definitely sensational and not suitable in a business setting.  This newsletter went out to over 100,000 movie goers.  For this newsletter a 6% increase translates into more than 6000 people.  That is a meaningful number.

A well crafted subject line can lead to an increased open rate.  I picked these sensational words for this post as they allowed me to write a sensational title.   In a business setting something less sensational is required.  Subject lines don’t need to be sensational but they should be provocative.   Give the reader a reason to open the email.

08 Feb

What is the value of Free?

When I first started providing Internet strategy consulting I was reluctant to provide free advice during the initial meeting.  Once the advice is given it cannot be taken back.  My good friend Jim Crocker suggested that I indeed provide some free counsel as a way of establishing credibility.  He was right.

Last fall Mitch Joel released Six Pixels of Separation, Everyone is connected.  Connect your business to everyone.  This book is a compilation of the process, ideas, and methods that Mitch has been sharing on his blog and during his speaking engagements.  The book covered a lot of material that I’ve already learned and put into practice.  It did do one thing for me and that was get me to focus on some social marketing skills and  techniques to help my advance my own business.

One of the things this new focus allowed me to do was to reach out to an author whom I admire.  I read Made to Stick by the brothers Chip and Dan Heath.  I really like this book.  I follow their blog in my RSS reader and noticed that they moved to a new URL and blog that runs on WordPress.   In looking at the new site I noticed a couple of configuration options that could help make the site more search friendly.  I dropped Dan and email letting him know that updating his permalinks to be human readable and using tags and categories would both help his search engine optimization but also help his users better navigate the site.  A couple of emails later and the Heath Brother’s blog was in much better shape.

So what did taking Mitch’s and Jim’s advice do for me?  For starters, it got me and advance copy of Switch.  That wasn’t my goal but I am looking forward to reading it.  Does this one act immediately translate into more business?  No, but that wasn’t the point.  I wanted to help Dan, that’s all.  I’ve created some goodwill that I might be able to use in the future.  That goodwill translates into value for my personal brand.

02 Feb

Social Media Types

In a business context social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others act as electronic word of mouth. It has always been the case that businesses that ignore word of mouth do so at their peril. This is also true of social media.

Social media sites can be loosely grouped into three types: broadcasting, narrowcasting and filtering. There is naturally a little overlap from each to the other. This overlap is the social glue that gives social media the personal connection.

How do you know a site is a social site? If there is any kind of a member or user or some other kind of identity then the site is social.

Social Media Types Defined

Broadcasting – any site where the primary purpose is to broadcast content to the widest possible audience. Social interactions are not the primary focus. For instance the primary purpose of YouTube is to broadcast video. YouTube also has user profiles and channels where like minded users can subscribe to content they like.

Narrowcasting – any site that has in some way limited either the size of the audience or what the audience has access too. Any site that has a limited profile can be classed as narrowcasting. Social interactions are expected on these sites. Access to a member’s content is in some way limited. The primary purpose of Facebook is to provide ambient intimacy for people that know each other. Some of the content shared on Facebook becomes public but not all.

Filtering – these are sites that either group, limit, or provide some other means of filtering content. Yahoo started out as a filtering site. When launched it was a hand edited bookmark list. This was of great value. There are social sites now that allow their users to create lists and links to content they like. These lists act as filters either based on the personality of the list creator or on a specific subject that grouped together via an internal search mechanism.

Examples of Social Media Sites

Broadcasting Narrowcasting Filtering
Youtube Facebook Delicious
Flickr Myspace Digg
Slideshare LinkedIn Stumble Upon
Blogs FriendFeed Squidoo