What Not to Say to a Social Media Strategist…

Kim Garst Head Shot

Kim Garst

Written By Kim Garst @kimgarst / CEO, Entrepreneur, Social Media & Personal Branding Strategist & Mentor to Business Owners. Forbes TOP 50 Social Media Influencer

1. They pay you to do that? I thought social media was free! 

Well yes, it’s free to have an account on every social media platform. Some of the tools to increase efficiency in social media aren’t free. And that doesn’t even get into the issue of whether it’s cost effective to put yourself through the learning curve required to use social media effectively – posting fresh content regularly, writing at least 2 blog posts per week, and creating videos just to name a few. To use social media well takes time and a consistent strategy. I haven’t even mentioned marketing knowledge yet!

2. I know how to use Facebook! How do I start?

I think developing a social media marketing business is a great way for people to break out of traditional work environments – especially people like stay at home moms, retirees, etc. However, just because you use Facebook doesn’t mean you are ready to hang out your shingle and call yourself an expert! There are many other social media platforms, not to mention running a website or a blog. Plus, the endless hours of learning online marketing strategies – which are very different than standard marketing strategies.

3. You just play on social media all day? What kind of a job is that?

Honestly, while there are certain activities that go into every social media marketing campaign, every day and every client has unique needs. So while I know what kinds of activities I’ll be doing regularly, there are many days that I never know what is going to happen by the day’s end! (But I can assure you, it’s not just “playing” on any platform, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or the rest!)

4. Pinterest and Twitter for business? I thought that was just for housewives or college kids!

Marketing is about providing your message to your ideal customers, wherever they are. Social media and content marketing takes that one step further and provides valuable information across multiple channels that helps you find, then develop relationships with the people most likely to be interested in the services or products you offer. Where is your ideal client? Chances are,  they’re on Twitter and Pinterest!

5. Social media is just a fad!

As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, betting against social media now is like betting against the Internet. Six years ago, what was developing into social media was called “Web 2.0″ It was where the internet was going, and developers knew it. While social media platforms may continue to evolve, the likelihood that social networking will cease to be part of people’s everyday lives is as high as the likelihood that movies or television will stop existing all together. They may be made and distributed differently, but they’re not going away. Neither is the need for businesses to engage with their customers online.

6. Since we’re friends, can you help me out for FREE?

Unless you would also ask every friend to provide professional services  for free (and if you would, let’s talk about professional manners! you should also expect to pay for the professional services of someone handling your social media strategy. Besides the cost of access to tools that a professional social media strategist incurs, if he or she is serious about business, he or she also has invested a great deal of time and money learning the skills of the profession, just like any other professional. And one last thought…do you work for free?

7. My granddaughter is into computers; I’ll just have her do that for me

It’s important to understand that social media isn’t about the technology. It’s about understanding that whoever is providing your social media updates, designing a Facebook contest that doesn’t break the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) and creates fresh blog content regularly is the face and the voice of your company to anyone who reads your content. It takes work and a strong strategy to provide a voice that indeed sounds like someone from your company. Building your brand as a company takes time – and it only takes one misinformed Tweet to ruin it for a long time to come.

8. Twitter? Do People Really Use That For Business?

Yes Twitter is used for business.  I can’t begin to tell you how many paid clients have first connected with me through Twitter or as a result of content I’ve shared via Twitter. You would be amazed at the power of 140 characters to make or break your brand.

Are You Still Missing The Social Media / Blogging Train?……..


Don’t Be This Guy, He Missed The Train

Since Sage Summit I’ve been talking to a lot of companies of different sizes & different industries about the importance of getting on the social media train. Social media is not a fad, it’s here to stay.

Consider these statistics from Econsultancy Network Statistics Quarterly Compendium

  1. Global Wi-Fi usage is up by 240% between Q2 2011 & Q2 2012
  2. 76% of marketers plan to increase their YouTube and/or video marketing
  3. 25% of corporations have at least 1 staff member who works exclusively on social media
  4. 57% of corporations have their social media team within their marketing department
  5. Most corporate social media is used for Communications, Marketing, Customer Service & Reputation Monitoring
  6. 62% of corporations intend to increase budgets for social media
  7. 90% of corporations say social media is becoming a more important part of their marketing strategy
  8. A LinkedIn profile can bring many opportunities in your direction. If you’re sure what to do ask someone who has had success utilizing LinkedIn and to a lesser degree Twitter and Facebook The other area that I’m stressing to companies is blogging and that’s because most of them  don’t have a blog because most people don’t think they can write.

    I employ a very simple methodology that proves that ALL people can write and they shouldn’t be afraid to.

    Below are my reasons why I think blogging is so important to a company:

    a. It gives the company a face & more visibility
    b. It helps build a trust relationship
    c. If your blog is about your industry it helps mark you as an industry expert
    d. Some people are leary of “Push Notification,” be careful that you don’t come off as being pushy with your sales pitch. As a matter of fact, don’t try to sell anything other than yourself and your quality company
    e. A blog can generate leads & business provided your blog isn’t one huge sales pitch

There are more reasons to blog, these are but a few. I’m sure that you can come up with a lot more of your own. While you’re contemplating a company blog ask yourself two questions;

Are my competitor’s blogging? Are my customers blogging?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of the questions then you should be picking up the phone & calling someone who is an expert in the art of setting up company blogs.

I just saw a statistic at Sage Summit that made me smile; approx. 65% of all businesses blog. I wish I could remember which company it was that shared that with me. Even it’s off 5-10% +/- that means that over half of all businesses are utilizing a fantastic tool that most of didn’t use just 5 years ago.

So, are you willing to get on the train or are you going to be left at the station wishing you had jumped on? My suggestion? Get on the train, now!

The 7 Deadly Mistakes of Using LinkedIn & How To Avoid Them

The 7 Deadly Mistakes Using LinkedIn & How to Avoid Them

Since starting 3 LinkedIn Network Groups, the largest is the Sage Partners, Employees, Alumni & Analyst with 7,500+ members in 60+ countries and the United States & the group has become a daily reading staple for many of the Sage NA executives. The group was created with the idea of members sharing ideas & opinions on current Sage changes, events & general take on the Sage environment with each other.

Since May 2008 I’ve seen many mistakes that members continually make about setting up their LinkedIn profile & utilizing it to its maximum benefits.

Below are some of the most common mistakes. This was taken from a presentation that I gave recently at Sage Summit, Sage’s Annual Partners & Customers Conference In Nashville

#1 / Never Complete Your LinkedIn Profile
Don’t Open Your Professional Profile to 175mil LinkedIn members worldwide
Don’t List Your Accomplishments & Certifications
Don’t Include Your History, Current Position or Core Competencies
For mediocre results keep you profile at less than 100%

#2 / Use The Ghost Avatar
                       
Does Anyone Really look like this?
Does Remaining Anonymous Really Help?
Don’t Build any Social Media Credibility

#2a / Use A Cartoon As Your Avatar

Pets & Children’s Photos Have NO Value on LinkedIn. If You Go To Spring Break Every Year & Consume Copious Amounts of Alcohol & Lose Your Clothes, Please Keep Those For Your Private Collection.

#3 / Don’t Contribute To Your LinkedIn Profile
Stay Secretive About Yourself & Don’t Let Anyone Know Who You Are
Don’t Share Your Industry Knowledge
Let Others Determine & Shape Your Online Brand

#4 / Don’t Ask (Or Answer) LinkedIn Questions
By All Means Keep Your Unique Business Acumen All To Yourself
Don’t Become An Expert in ANY Industry, Remain an Enigma

#5 / Don’t Invite Others to Your Network
Keep Your Network Your Own Private Domain
Reduce The Number of Your Relevant Connections(Or Just Don’t Get Them In The First Place)
The Less Connections You Have Will Result In Fewer Search Results That You’ll Appear In

#6 / Don’t Give Or Ask For Recommendations
Don’t Let Your Colleagues Say Anything Positive About You
Remain An Enigma In The Virtual Word
Don’t Send Any Recommendations To People You’ve Worked With

#7 / Don’t Include Any Current Contact Information
Make It Impossible To Contact You
Make People Guess Where You’re Currently Working
Don’t Answer Messages or LinkedIn Invitations

These are but a few of the mistakes that I see people making but they seem to be the ones that continually show up.
Remember that an intriguing & complete LinkedIn Profile will help you Take The Work Out of Networking

Bill Kizer
Creator Sage LinkedIn Partners, Employees & Alumni Networking Group
LinkedIn Profile: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/bkizer  ~  williamkizer52@gmail.com
760.518.2493

Robert Wood; 2012 Co-Presentor
DDF Consulting Group, Inc.
Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bertowud  ~   robertw@ddfcgi.com
352.615.5898

Insights Is Over, Now What Do I Do?

Insights 2010 is over. So much great information. So many informative sessions, Hands On Work Shops, keynotes, got to see old friends and make new ones. Now that I’m back in (You Fill In The Blank) what do I do first to make my business better?

It’s been a week and some of the “feel good” is getting up and going. While I was away, the business continued on, customers called, prospects were wondering why I wasn’t calling, it’s time to get back at it. But what’s the first thing that I should do?

I’ve read that it’s usually the second to fourth week after a conference that attendees completely forget everything that they learned and then they’re back doing the same thing(s) prior to going.

I want to learn more about this thing called The Cloud, but Mrs. Smith is calling with a problem, my sales manager wasn’t selling or managing while I was in Denver. His golf handicap mysteriously went down 3 strokes. I’m in Denver and his handicap goes down, coincidence? I think not.

Mr. Brown is calling because he’s heard about this Social Media thing and wants to bend my ear about what’s the best approach for his business. Of course he wants me to set it up for him, but he doesn’t want to pay. I then remember what Ed Kless was saying about Pricing On Purpose. I want to put Mr. Brown on a Access Level Agreement but I don’t know how to accomplish that. I should call Ed but I don’t know him. I have kept track of all the time that Mr. Brown has usurped from my available time and the number is astounding. I’ve essentially worked for free for him with no hope of ever making him an “A” customer.  I need to start putting a price on my Knowledge because  my knowledge is all I have left to offer. I’ve let customers like Mr. Brown get it for free and I’ve given them the unwritten permission to do so. Not any more! I’m not a commodity!

I run the risk of losing him as a customer, but what kind of a customer is he? He doesn’t respect me or my staff, my staff doesn’t like working with him because he’s abusive and refuses to deal with anyone but me. I heard at Insights that when customers like Mr. Brown leave they’re better off with another VAR and my business will get more productive. I understand that it will take time but I believe that I’m willing to take that step. I met a partner from Knoxville who lost 50% of his customers when he made the switch but his business has continued to grow and flourish as a result of taking that leap of faith.

I want to read Rob Johnson’s book Kick Your Own Ass, because I’ve attended the 5 day Sales Academy and got a lot from it but I don’t have the time right now because Mr. Brown is on the phone again. I know that I need to make my business more lean and mean.

I want to blog because I’ve heard that blogging can work together with a well thought out Social Media plan for my business. I also heard that it’s another way of building a network. I see a lot of people blogging sporadically but there are some partners who provide a valuable message in their blogs. The first name that comes to mind is Wayne Schulz, I think he’s in Connecticut but I don’t him either.

How do the successful VAR’s operate? How do they seem to be at the top of the heap year in and year out? I have no clue because I don’t run my business any longer, it runs me.

What about this LinkedIn Group? Someone was talking about it, well actually a lot of people were talking about it. Should I join? Will I learn anything? Will I build a bigger and better network? By the way, the answer is “yes” to the prior questions. Then I heard that to get the most out of it I need to participate in discussions, etc. I don’t have the time, remember? Crap, Mr. Brown is calling again. Instead of picking up the phone I do something differently this time, I ask my assistant to tell Mr. Brown that I’m in a meeting and won’t be available for a few hours. Hey, that felt pretty good.

I think what I will do is look at my business from the “outside.” I need to look at it realistically, it’s important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses are. Then and only then can I start to make well informed business decisions. Then I need to make those decisions and stick by them. I don’t want my business to continue running me any longer, I think that I might connect with some of the Sage Power Houses and pick their collective brains to see what they’re doing that I’m not. I want to be successful, I want to be recognized as a leader and someone that other people come to when they have questions, but I’ve let my business run me around like a mouse on a hamster wheel.

So here’s what I’m going to do and my new Mantra;

ANALYZE, STRATEGIZE AND UTILIZE

  • Set objectives
  • Generate alternative strategies
  • Evaluate alternative strategies
  • Monitor results
  • Start to enjoy being a Sage VAR again
  • See you all next year!

    Insights 2010

    Tammy Mathews, Bill Kizer & some short guy at Sage Insights 2010 ~ Denver, Colorado

    Photograph Taken By Wayne Schulz

    Like a lot of other Sage Partners, Employees & Exhibitors I just returned home from Sage’s Annual Partner Conference. It was held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and I’m happy to report that I think this was the best Insights that I’ve attended.  It was refreshing, positive and had the feel of a large family reunion without the drunk uncle.

    My only negative was the size of that damned convention center. I made the mistake of wearing new shoes to walk endlessly throughout the monolithic Center. It seemed to me that the halls were about 6 miles long and of course sessions covered every square foot available. At the end of the first day my feet were killing me, I developed blisters and I promise that I will never scoff at another woman when they complain about walking in heels. I think that I was the only person there who actually missed the Gaylord hotels, especially the Nashville property where everyone gets lost at least once and when you get lost in the Orlando Gaylord at least you had the alligators to keep you distracted while you wandered aimlessly. If my calculations are correct I walked a total of 493 miles in 4 days! Not really but it seemed that way.

    Now that I’ve whined about the walking, let’s get to the good stuff. The keynotes were succinct. As usual Himanshu was dynamite. Tom Miller held his own even though he had to follow Himanshu. I always enjoy listening to Laurie Schultz. I especially enjoyed Sue Swenson’s opening day keynote.

    The sessions that I attended seemed to be more relevant and timely. Ed Kless had a 3 part (that’s 3 straight hours) session titled “Firm Of The Future” and I don’t think that anyone left. There were more sessions on Social Media which seemed to be well attended. The Social Media Session that was moderated by Dennis Frahmann was phenomenal and I could have sat through another 2-3 hours. The panel was well picked and there were a lot of good questions. There were several hands on sessions that also looked packed.

    Rob Johnson was giving out signed copies of his new book Kick Your Own Ass. I wrote about my misadventures with the book on the group website http://www.sage-li-group.com.

    The difference in 2009 versus 2010 was papable, the chatter I heard was how far we’ve come as a company & how the future is looking brighter than ever. We’ve got a long ways to go, but it looks like we’re headed in the right direction.

    I’ve included some of the comments that were posted in the Discussions area of Sage LinkedIn Partners, Employees & Alumni Community: :

    Peter Wolf

      Peter Wolf, President at Azamba Consulting Group

      1. Content / conference itself: I’m finding that overall the mood is upbeat and positive. A lot of folks are seeing an uptick in prospect and client interest again – in some cases this is early stage proposals and in others this is signed orders.

      I feel that the Sage executives are an open, forthright group and they are keeping their committments to their three (?? is it more ??) key initiatives. Kudos to them all and to all the other Sage people that help make that possible.As anyone who has watched Seinfeld knows… anybody can MAKE committments – it’s keeping them… that’s the hard part. They seem to be doing a great job from what I can see. As always, it’s great to re-connect with people that we haven’t seen for a year and to put in some face time to all the new friends made via Social networking over the last 12 months. I tip my hat to Bill Kizer and crew for establishing this group – it really helps keep the conversations going (good and bad) throughout the year. 2. Venue / food / layout. These things never seem to bother me although I have found that they are typically a “common enemy” for a lot of people. ;)

      I have a booth (#520 – shameless plug) and appreciate that the booths are placed closer together than last year (where there was a football field separating one side from the other in any given row). It makes the flow seem more energetic which is great.

      John Hoyt

      John Hoyt, Partner, Hutchinson and Bloodgood LLP – Consulting Group Enterprise Solutions

      The Conference:
      Overall rating – Excellent.
      There was no special motivational speaker, which is great. They always have the same message, and the fact that we are at Insights means we are already motivated. Sage management motivating us is sufficient.The keynotes at all levels were concise and to the point, and I hope everyone else got the message as I did. The management team, at last, has a focus and are all on the same page. I support their efforts wholeheartedly!
      I took advantage of most of the sessions by Ed Kless, and these were invaluable to me. We cannot get too much of this information, but the interaction of the other people in these was key. I’m not convinced that updates on product roadmaps add much beyond the quarterly update presentations we get. I would like to see drilldown deeper into details that we cannot cover during those. I know there were sessions on BI and SQL, so these may be what I am looking for. The trade show was comprehensive, but I had a difficult time getting to everything. To exhibitors – I really don’t need gimmicks. Just present your product, so I can quickly understand what you have, and move on.The Venue:
      This layout and the logistics for me were far superior to the Gaylords. I want to escape to a separate hotel, where the facilities, food and drink are different, and probably better.

      I did not mind the food – it had more flavor and spice than in previous years. It’s never going to be haute cuisine, but that’s not why we’re here, and it is adequate. I would have liked champagne during the cocktail hours, but that’s just me!

      Wayne Schulz

      Wayne Schulz, Schulz Consulting http://www.s-consult.com

      I thought the numbers of people were down but those who attended were much more experienced and open about sharing.

      I’ve never been to a competitor’s conference but I’m pretty sure at those events that the regular folk like us don’t have a chance to talk to the top VP’s and President…… of course I couldn’t think of anything to actually talk to Jodi about other than how glad I was that we weren’t at the Gaylord Opryland this year (which was flooded in about 8 feet of water ) but I guess you have to start somewhere ;-)

      Here’s what I’d like to see in future conferences:

      1. I guess we still need road map sessions – but it seems that new streets and highways get built faster than the maps can be updated …

      What I’d like to see is a session on “why we did this” where Sage product folks could explain the real rationale behind some of the product feature decisions.

      I saw a glimpse of this in the hands-on training classes and it was very helpful to understand the reason behind why a particular feature may or may not have been added.

      2. One Powerpoint Keynote/Session Rule…

      Sage Executives are best when they’re not on script. Skip the bulk of those Powerpoints — or mail them out after the conference.

      I realize you have to create some standard message type content for a keynote but I find myself listening most closely to the speaker when they’re not on a script.

      I think both Ed and Rob do this for their “classes” — which are really more like learning events….. the last time I went to Ed’s session he announced that he had 30 minutes of presentation (thankfully usually only one PPT) and then the class could vote on what they’d like to talk about (it’s always related to the overall theme of the session).

      I think it works — at the Firm of the Future there had to be 60 people who sat through 3 concurrent sessions without leaving. As best I could tell just about every single person in the room participated….

      Oh and for some reason these sessions also product almost zero rants about policy and/or Sage — nearly all the discussion is about how to improve…. there’s a big lesson in these session formats imho.

      3. Let the product people get more involved in keynotes. Scott Zandenberg (sp) was great (loved his opening cartoon about change in the install base). The hands-on classroom was excellent when they went off-script and talked about why a change was or wasn’t made to the product.

      My feedback to everyone at Sage was that I think most people realize that product and technology related issues are tough to change. The one thing I am looking for Sage to work hard to improve is communication — providing us with the type of product and Sage communications that increase our enthusiasm and confidence for the products.

      Hugh Johnson

      Hugh Johnson, VP Sales & Marketing at Suntico

      As a first-timer I was delighted to meet so many great people from Sage and the Sage partner community in North America. There seems to be a strong cooperative spirit among many of the partners which is impressive. Almost everyone I spoke to commented about a pick-up in business or at least in sales enquiries in 2010 which is very encouraging.

      As an exhibitor I did not get to go to many of the sessions but that is OK. I thought the exhibitors were well looked after, and there was plenty of productive trade-show time.

      I learned an awfull lot, made some excellent contacts, received some very generous offers of assisitance and as a result I am refining my market entry strategy for the US.

      I loved Denver.

      Gary Feldman

      Gary Feldman, President at I-Business Network, LLC and Owner, I-Business Network, LLC

      Insights was and remains one of the best events of its kind, especially for a software company in the market Sage serves.
      1. The content was as informative and substantive as ever. I really appreciated the number and quality of the external experts (the CRM road ahead was especially good). The keynotes and other presenters are packing a lot of content (even Himansu) into a small amount of time. Tom Miller was a perfect example of too much information in too little time. The one area for improvement is the motivational aspect of the conference as a sales event. Sage could punch up the energy level with a master of ceremony that can ignite the energy at the begining of the conference. The painters and singers was an attempt at this. A truly dynamic presence could invigorate during the show and beyond.2. The Denver convention center is a fabulous facility. The Wells Fargo auditorium is really nice (although the seats are a little cramped). The tradeshow layout was good although I beleive the Sage booth should be in front of the door as the main attraction. I think half way between the narrow isles and football field seperation would allow for more traffic and better visibility.

      I do like the Gaylord combined facility and hotel as it allows you to go back to the room during short breaks. Not all Gaylords were equal and the DC facility was beautiful, but more cramped than the others. I hope we have the problem of too many people for the small hallways!

      Although the number of people was down, the quality of the conversations was up this year. Well worth the time to increase our knowledge and social capital. Continue reading