Monday, October 19, 2009

Miamore's Top 10! How Businesses Hurt Themselves By Not Utilizing FB Fan Pages

On my Facebook personal page, I'm receiving more "friend" requests than ever before from businesses using the wrong medium... personal, instead of "Fan" pages. This is a favorite subject of mine on this blog, because it pains me to see SO many businesses setting themselves up for social media failure. So, here are my Top 10 reasons why it is vital to use a Fan page for business promotion... all 10 focus on Miamore Communications' own experiences. Even if you skip the first nine, pleaaaaase, at least read #10...

1. Google ranks Miamore Communication’s fan page high on its list, so anyone in the universe interested in our services can become a fan. Why would I expect a potential client to "request" the honor of becoming a friend and waiting for approval in order to check out my services? Get real: there are a million more accessible competitors out there.

2. On our Fan page, we can provide quality information that illustrates our expertise in a format clearly designated as a business. (For more, see #3)

3. Potential clients aren't confused a mish-mash of posts (a la: Hey! Here's my family vacation! Then: Here's a new service I'm offering!)

4. Potential clients aren't annoyed by a bait-and-switch like maneuver: "acting" like someone who wants to be friend, then bombarding them with marketing solicitations under that false guise.

5. When I invite someone to be a fan and they accept, it shows up on their Facebook wall... And their friends are much more likely to check out why they are became a fan of a biz, than to care why they became friends with some random “friend”.

6. Facebook has a nifty feature that posts Fan additions in the sidebars of friends, thus illustrating the whole idea of "viral" growth... Which is the point of social media for business.

7. It's the RULES of Facebook that businesses use fan pages.

8. Can't stress enough: it's the rules!

9. If you only reach people you already know (via "friend" requests) on Facebook, why are you putting all this effort into social media, when you could just use traditional forms of communication (like email)... those friends clearly already know you.

And, most tellingly; MOST importantly:

Number 10...

Through viral growth, 8% of my business page’s fans are people I don't know and/or wouldn't have thought to ever request on my Facebook personal page. Those 8% of Miamore’s fans have converted into 30% of our contract clients...

Now, how many businesses operating within the constraints of "friend" pages have witnessed that kind of growth? Not many. See, while it may seem like the easy answer to create a personal page and "find" potential customers, the beauty of viral social media growth is that, when you follow the rules and utilize the fan pages Facebook has structured to help you build your business... your potential customers can, instead, find you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What We See Depends on What We Look For...

I spent yesterday evening with a fabulous, dynamic group of specialists in various creative and business fields, planning what everyone, everywhere will soon hear about: StyleWeek Providence. I could not be more excited to work on this project! If anything makes a fantastic concept better, it is a palpable energy driving it… and that is exactly what StyleWeek Providence has.

StyleWeek Providence is the brainchild of dynamo (talk about energy!) Rosanna Ortiz Sinel, a fashion writer and general fashion guru. When she shared her brilliant idea with me a couple months ago, I almost jumped out of my seat. See, we are both transplants to Rhode Island with a shared interest and expertise in fashion. Further, as relative newcomers to Providence, we see our new home with “outsiders’” (read: not jaded) eyes. The home of RISD and the historic center for jewelry design (not to mention the most vibrant and charming city in New England!), Providence overflows with a creativity that, until now, has been largely disjointed. StyleWeek Providence gives those creatives in the areas of fashion and design a common voice. And it will be a powerful one.

Top designers in various fashion categories, from across the region—Rhodies (that’s local-speak for “Rhode Island dwellers”), New Englanders and those with local ties (a la RISD alum)—will showcase their collections at shows spread across five days next June. Far from being just a social event as many regional “fashion weeks” are, StyleWeek Providence is, at its root, a business event, with buyers from New England, New York and across the country invited to meet the area’s phenomenal talent, and have the opportunity to then introduce it to their customers and audiences.

StyleWeek Providence is also, in a time when businesses everywhere are facing difficult challenges, an incredible example of small businesses uniting and promoting the local economy. Not surprisingly, businesses across the city are embracing the idea (the most recent and most exciting: Hotel Providence, the area’s finest upscale boutique hotel, home of one of the city’s most gorgeous event venues, Aspire, will be not only host to the closing-night show and festivities, but also serve as the official hotel of StyleWeek Providence).

So, while I’m gushing about StyleWeek in general, my points here are much broader for small businesses…

First: bringing in “outsiders”, who can view your area or business with fresh new eyes, can be a key step to visualizing your full potential and, ultimately, growing your reputation and business.

Second: Never underestimate the powers of partnerships, and common visions and goals. Our designers and venues have no prior connections, but are pulling together in ways that are the stuff of cross-promotion chapters in Business 101 textbooks.

The fundamental message is (while I hate this cliché): never stop thinking outside the box, and investing in new ideas, consultants and voices who can provide new vision and voices to grow your business. To borrow from John Lubbock: What we see depends on what we look for.

StyleWeek Providence’s inaugural event will be June 6-10, featuring fashion shows and celebrations at venues across the city. For updates, join StyleWeek’s Facebook Fan page, follow us on Twitter, and stay tuned for the website launch on Nov. 1. If you’d like information of sponsorship opportunities, a buyer or press invite, or to be considered to show your designs at StyleWeek, feel free to contact me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Fundamental Rule of Social Media Networking for Business

I'm reflecting on several amusing conversations I had this week with clients and friends regarding social media usage and users. The topics have included:
  • The user whose photos are shockingly personal
  • Another who uses "send an update to fans" to announce every sneeze
  • One whose Facebook and Twitter posts are, well, without TMI, mind-numbingly impersonal
And, finally:
  • The charming one who "friends" people on Facebook, only to hijack their contact list to send promotional announcements.

It may not be pretty, but this chatter simply echoes human nature (and what goes on in every school cafeteria, trade show cocktail party, and family get-together): gossiping.

While this topic is seemingly anything but business-related on the surface, the general subject is actually very relevant to anyone using social media tools for marketing... because, in each of these cases, the user utilizes social media to promote their business. And, as I say (apparently ad nauseam, as seen here, here and here!): networking via social media should be thought of in the same terms as networking the real world. The same rules and etiquette apply:
  • Would you show up to a networking event in a negligee?
  • Would you call everyone in your address book 3 times a day (to say the same thing again and again)?
  • Would you walk up to prospects at a cocktail party rattling off random information from an encyclopedia?
  • Would you lift an associate's address book from their office during a business dinner so you could later cold-call people they know?

Clearly (or I hope): No. Yet so many of us sit in front of a computer and don't realize that our actions on these social media tools are just as much a reflection of ourselves and our businesses as our actions in "real" life.

This is a whole new and evolving way of communicating and everyone is very much learning as they go. But a rule that isn't evolving, and that I constantly remind myself (and clients) when using social media tools for marketing: if you wouldn't do it in a real life business setting, please, don't do it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or anywhere else.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hey, Ladies! Feel Like a Gerbil on the Wheel? How About Some Girl Power...

Sometimes, and perhaps too often, life feels like that old plate-spinning act at the circus... Aging parents; the endless demands of children; managing a career; and keeping up with housework, car repairs, the dog that needs walking, and a million other responsibilities. The daily grind takes its toll on everyone but, here, I speak specifically to the women out there: how often do you think about your own future, your own goals and dreams, and the financial stability it takes to achieve them? If you are anything like me, those things pop into your head now and again, and you vow to give them some thought, but they are far from front-of-mind. Further, how often do you actually feel empowered, strong and confident, instead of like a gerbil on the wheel? Again, if you're like me, not often enough...

I recently found myself in a planning meeting with client Tomgirl Tours, and Tomgirl's partner in several of new 2010 tours: Ameriprise Financial. Tomgirl Tours specializes in adventure tours for women--upscale travel that includes mildly adventurous (read: you don't need to be an Olympic athlete) activities like zip lining, hot air ballooning, and hiking the Grand Canyon. Tomgirls' tours promote relaxation, exhilarating outdoor activities, bonding with new and old friends, and confidence building adventure. In a nutshell: Girl Power.

Client or no, I find the concept fabulous for today's stressed-out, going-through-the-motions women. And, I find these new 2010 Vermont tours even more exciting: they combine the physical/mental empowerment of challenging activities (inherent in all Tomgirl Tours) with what women all too often neglect: planning for a future of financial empowerment. And lest you think these are yawn-worthy financial planning sessions that would intrude on an "adventure" vacation... the program focuses on fun, creative, and thought-provoking activities, like identifying your dreams, visualizing them through old-school activities like collage-making, and developing an action plan for making those dreams reality. Better yet, the two Ameriprise planners (profiles here and here) who are working with Tomgirl are down-to-earth, fun and, frankly, absolutely hilarious.

Along with the financial planning elements, each tour (dubbed Green Mountain Escapes) features a sunset hot air balloon ride, a challenging ropes course and zip line adventure, a chance to try out a Segway, pampering at a fabulous spa, and culinary delights (including a cooking and wine pairing evening led by the New England Culinary Institute). I don't usually use this forum to promote client activities, but as I work on planning the PR for this new tour, I keep thinking about all the friends and colleagues who, like me, fit into the "Oh, man, do I NEED this sort of getaway" category. So, I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek and chance for an early sign up. For specifics, check out Tomgirl Tours.