New Marketing: Personalize What You Automate

One of the primary responsibilities of every sales and marketing professional is developing warm relationships with customers.

In the days before computers, we made it a habit to learn about the personal lives of our customers, including their families, pets, hobbies, leisure activities, and favorite sports teams. All of this information was either written down or committed to memory, which naturally limited what one person could accomplish.

These days you have the ability to easily collect massive amounts of data that is readily accessible, while also automating how your business connects with customers.

That seems to be where everything often stops – and it shouldn’t.

In this age of automation, it is possible to scale the time-honored practice of getting up close and personal with customers to first earn, and then retain their business.

It only takes recognizing the possibility, and why it is essential for achieving virtually any desirable business outcome.

The Goal is To Honor Every Relationship

What if it were possible to treat every single connection, follower, friend, or member of your tribe as an individual? This is indeed possible if you seek to organize what you automate, and then use that capability to add a human touch.

Businesses tend to organize from their perspective, using categories such as customer, prospect, vendor, etc. Now that you can tag your connections on LinkedIn and most CRM’s, they can be classified with a focus on them, such as their industry, special interests, events where you met, and so on.

This requires putting systems in place, but over time they will prove to be invaluable means for nurturing relationships. For example, social CRM Nimble has a feature that inquires about how frequently you would like to reconnect with a particular connection, thereby sending a notification based upon that desired frequency.

So, let’s say Nimble sends you a notice to reconnect. As one example, you can then link over to his or her LinkedIn profile, which will have a record of your last email conversation if you have activated LinkedIn Contacts.

Opportunity Starts With The First Connection

When you make a new connection, what happens in the days or months that follow is one of two things: The relationship either gets stronger or weaker.

Relationship take work, but if you have the desire and design a plan for connecting and then engaging with prospective buyers, influencers, and potential partners, opportunities will manifest.

Most of us have squandered more opportunities than we can count because we simply were not ready to take the relationship further. This was understandable in the old days, but technology has now erased those physical limitations.

Once you do make that initial connection, you often have just one shot at making it stronger. Here are a few suggested steps for doing so.

#1 – Invite everyone (yes, everyone) you meet to connect on LinkedIn. If they accept the connection, tag the relationship according to what works best for you. This could include where you met or what you have in common.

#2 – Use your social CRM to remind you when to reconnect with people to keep the relationship alive. The frequency will depend upon the relationship and potential opportunities.

#3 – Build a system that remembers personal information, and develop a plan for leveraging that. This is one of the secrets to getting more engagement on Facebook and the other channels – in short, be personal!

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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3 Facebook Hashtag Marketing Tips

2013.6.13 hashtags

The newly launched Facebook hashtags could prove to be the savior of Graph Search – the recently launched Facebook search feature.

Graph Search does what it promises – returning search results based on the social graphs of your Facebook friends, fans, and followers. This means that you tend to see search results only for those friends and businesses with whom you are already closely aligned.

If you happen to be using Facebook for outreach and marketing, the new hashtag feature will extend your reach dramatically. This will create both risks and rewards, so you will want to choose your hashtags with care.

 #1 – Avoid Desperation Marketing

What I am already noticing are Facebook posts that include a rash of hashtags. As expected, the inevitable hashtag spam has just begun. We have not seen this with Twitter hashtags because the 140 character limitation keeps it in check.

 One example of Facebook hashtag spam

One example of Facebook hashtag spam

This is just one more example of desperation marketing. We are already familiar with this in its many forms. These include:

  • Sensationalized headlines
  • All caps and excessive use of exclamation points
  • Controversy and false claims

Now add a truckload of hashtags to that and you have a real mess that is sure to annoy those that you presumably most want to engage and inspire to action.

Smart businesses know that desperation marketing only serves to repel potential buyers.

When you use dozens of hashtags you tell the Facebook search engine that your post has no focus. So, all you are really doing is spamming your friends and fans.

Don’t do it.

#2 – Hashtags Are Keyword Tags – Use Them Well

Given that the effectiveness of Facebook search is marginal at best, hashtags can be quite useful for tracking your content. However, this isn’t going to work if you are using broad keyword phrases – such as #smallbusiness.

A broad keyword tag or hashtag is the same as none at all. As we all know, saying “one size fits all” means it doesn’t fit anyone well.

Use a hashtag that is personal to you, such as your business name. One that I’ve been using lately is #builtinsocial, which happens to be the title of my new book.

When I search for the hashtag #builtinsocial I’m confident the results I receive will for the most part be mine and mine only. That should be your objective.

Think of your hashtag as a link to you, your business, or one of its products or services. To accomplish that, you have to be specific.

Also consider that using broad category hashtags aggregates your content with everyone else that uses it (to the extent that your privacy settings allow), a practice that will likely align you with hashtag spammers.

Is that what you want?

#3 The Best Marketing is Specific

Mass marketing may work well for big consumer brands, but not for your small and probably local business.

If you really want to use hashtags well, use them to create alignment with a highly targeted group. This is why location hashtags will prove to be especially popular for local small businesses.

Think of your hashtags as the language of your desired community. If there are specific words or phrases that speak to your community, those words as hashtags will serve as markers that will rise to the surface in Facebook conversations.

You can also coin your own hashtag keywords and use them to brand your business.

The introduction of hashtags on Facebook, a site that is frequented by many that are not necessarily social media savvy, is sure to bring their use into the mainstream.

So, get ready for what may prove to be a game-changer for Facebook marketing.

Apply these 3 hashtag tips to your Facebook marketing and you are sure to notice favorable results.

Update: The discussion on this has been raging on Facebook. Thus far, we’ve confirmed that hashtags work on posts, with photos, and with some – but not all comments.  We will not know all the facts until this completely rolls out. Also, your privacy settings prevail, with hashtags aggregating content within that sphere of influence to other content using the same tag.

Leave a comment below if you have questions or ideas to share.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)

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3 Powerful LinkedIn Profile Tips

Whether you are looking for a job or new customers, your personal LinkedIn profile is an invaluable resource. To get the most out of LinkedIn, its important to go beyond the basics. Even when LinkedIn congratulates you for having a profile that is 100% complete – there is still much more that you can do. […]

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