“My Customers Don’t Use Social Media” and Other Lame Excuses

Fellow social media pro Jay Baer, and author of The Now Revolution, is busting some social media myths with his latest post, Destroying the 7 Myths of B2B Social Media. Jay Baer

My favorite busted myth was “My Customers Don’t Use Social Media”. I hear that one a lot from businesspeople.

“That’s interesting,” I said to a business person once. “How do you know?”

“Well, because I don’t use it,” said this otherwise-intelligent business owner.

I wanted to say, “You drive a sedan. Does that mean all your customers buy sedans? You have two kids. Do all your customers have two kids?” But I didn’t, because I’m a nice guy.

However, had I known what Jay knows, I would have instead offered some pretty interesting statistics instead:

According to the recent Social Technographics® report from Forrrester, 81% of U.S. adults with an Internet connection use social media in some form or function. Further, last year’s Forrester study of B2B technology buyers found that they use social media nearly twice as much as U.S. adults overall.

In other words, if 67% of US homes have broadband access,, 81% of them are on a social network, or 54.27% of people with broadband access are on a social network.

That’s half your customers, half your vendors, half your competitors. And if social media is so cheap to use, and your competitors are already on there, they’re reaching your vendors and your customers more efficiently, more frequently, and more effectively than you are.

Don’t assume that just because you don’t use social media means that the rest of your customers are waiting to join social networks until you do. Just because you do or don’t do something doesn’t mean your customers will follow suit.

If you want more proof, Jay recommended that you take your customer email list, and see which of them are active on different social media accounts by using Flowtown or Gist.

Another way to see whether your customers are using social media is to do the following:

  1. Create a new Gmail account with your company name or your name. (You should do this if you’re trying Flowtown or Gist too.)
  2. Upload your entire customer list to Gmail. (Don’t worry, your original is still safe.) Merge any duplicates.
  3. Create a Twitter account (Twitter.com) or LinkedIn account.
  4. You’ll be prompted to import your email list to see which of your contacts are on that network. Follow those instructions and connect your Gmail account.
  5. Start connecting with/following anyone in your list.

Those are the people who are using Twitter and LinkedIn. My guess is that at least 25% of your list will be found on those two networks, and possibly more.

So why aren’t you communicating with your customers on this channel? It’s cheaper than any advertising or trade shows. It’s more effective than traditional marketing. It targets your audience better than direct mail. It’s new enough that people are still paying attention to it. And it’s got enough acceptance that it’s not going away.

Basically, if you think your customers don’t use this because you don’t like it, you’re making a big mistake. Social media is not going to go away, and it’s only going to get bigger. People said the same thing about the Internet, computers in the workplace, fax machines, and telephones. But newer, more technologically-daring companies are willing to try these things, and they’re going to leave you in the dust.

How Lawyers Can Avoid Violating Attorney-Client Privilege on Social Media

A concern we hear from attorneys who are nervous about social media is about whether they would violate attorney-client privilege through it. There’s one simple way to avoid violating privilege through social media:

Don’t violate attorney-client privilege through social media.

It’s not hard to do. Just don’t do it. Think of all the ways you can’t violate privilege now. You can’t share privileged information on the phone, via email, fax, letter, or in person. There are a myriad of places where you could violate it, but because you’re smart people (you graduated from law school, after all), you know not to.

Social media is just another communication tool. You talk to people, they talk back to you. You share information, they receive it. But just like your phone, fax, email, and in-person conversations, you know not to violate privilege at all ever no matter what.

So, if you won’t talk about privileged information on those channels, don’t talk about it on the new channels. There’s nothing magic about social media that will make it easier to violate privilege. It’s all down to your discretion and commitment to the laws that bind you and your profession.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Cars Part of New Facebook Game “Car Town”

As I get to know a few of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League marketing people, I’m impressed by how much they’re embracing social media. They took a big step two years ago, when they invited me and a few other bloggers to sit in the media center at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 and blog about the race.

Since then, they have been present at different social media events around Indianapolis, including BlogIndiana 2010, a week before the Moto GP, they have their own blogs, and the IMS CEO, Jeff Belskus, is now video blogging.

Dario Franchitti at the press conference after the 2010 Indianapolis 500

Dario Franchitti after winning the 2010 Indianapolis 500

I just received a press release from the IMS about their latest social media effort, including a variety of race cars and pace cars from different races at the IMS for the new Facebook game, “Car Town.”

“Car Town” is a social game created by Cie Games in which players collect and customize virtual cars, build their dream garage and help their friends do the same. It’s the only game on Facebook built around licensed automotive brands.

This makes the IMS the first major motorsports venue to be featured in Car Town. The first two cars they’re releasing are the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car and the 2010 Brickyard 400 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car. They will also make IMS, Indy 500, and IndyCar Series posters with real-life images and logos for players’ virtual garages. They will release other Indy 500 race cars and assets on a regular basis.

While I’m not a big player of Facebook games myself, I appreciate what the IMS is doing. They recognize where their fans are, they recognize the explosive growth of both Facebook and online gaming, and they’re going to ride that wave to increased awareness and improved fan loyalty. Car Town may be one game I have to check out.

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Picasa)

A Look at Old School Journalism

When I wrote for my college newspaper, the Ball State Daily News, one of the things I liked to do was to put some paper in the manual typewriter, hammer out a few sentences, rip it out of the typewriter, and yell “COPY!!” which would always crack my editor up.

This was back in about 1988, when we thought that kind of news writing — furiously banging out news copy on clackety old typewriters — was old-fashioned, and that nobody did it anymore. After all, we were nearly at the 21st century, using dummy terminals to put all of our news into a mainframe that would process the story into a single column, where it could be printed, cut, waxed, and pasted up on the layout page.

The fact that I just used terms that most younger readers don’t know — paste up, wax, typewriter — probably renders the whole COPY!! joke unfunny.

I recently spoke to some journalism classes at Ball State about how to blog for newspapers. I tried referencing a few of my student journalism experiences, and even told an OJ Simpson story, and was met with blank stares. I didn’t realize until later that many of these students were born the year before I got married. They were two when the OJ Simpson trial was going on.

Still, I always appreciate the history of journalism, and I like knowing things about it, like the fact that copy boys were the boys who ran around the newsroom, grabbing papers out of writers’ hands. Writers who had just ripped their story out of the typewriter and shouted “COPY!!

I was interested to find this video in a post, “How to be an Old School Journalist,” on Alltop.com. While the segment at 5:06 may be a little… upsetting, keep in mind that the video is around 70 years old.

Although I’m not sure exactly how old the movie is, you get some clues just by looking at the hats and suits, the cars, and even the phones. It’s an interesting look at what they thought of journalists — and women — back in those days.

It’s even more interesting when you realize how far we have come as a news gathering society.

  • According to Google’s Eric Schmidt, we produce as much data in 2 days as we produced from the dawn of history up to 2003.
  • More women blog than men. In fact, the Blogher Network boasts 2,500 women bloggers as part of their network alone.
  • A story written for a blog can be produced in minutes, not hours. Publication of a post is immediate. No typesetting, printing, or delivery. Hit Publish, and it’s out there. A news story can be written in minutes, but then it has to be pasted up (electronically, of course), and then printed, and delivered. The shortest amount of time it can take is 4 – 6 hours from the completion of the story.
  • To own a major newspaper takes millions of dollars and requires specialized knowledge to run specialized machines that only serve one purpose: to put ink on paper. To run a major blog takes a $1,000 laptop and a wifi connection. And when you’re done, you can watch a movie on it.

In Linchpin (affiliate link), Seth Godin talks about how the factory, the means of production, can be owned for $3,000 for a laptop (Seriously? $3,000? Seth, call me. I’ve got a deal on a few Dells for you, 2,000 bucks each.)

Bil Browning, owner of the Bilerico Project (the largest LGBT news blog on the web) runs his blog with four directors/editors, and 90 contributors (I even contributed an article last year). But he doesn’t have an office, doesn’t have printing presses, doesn’t have any overhead, other than his servers, and the salaries for him and his four directors. When I compare the low cost — $1,000 for a laptop — and ease of which he is able to reach hundreds of thousands of readers each month versus the time and effort we put into reaching people via newspaper today versus the time and effort we put into reaching people via newspaper 70 years ago, it’s a wonder we ever got it done at all. It’s also easy to see how Bil is able to reach his readership much more easily and cheaply than most big city newspapers.

Watch the video, see how our grandparents and great-grandparents got their news and information, and see if you’re not amazed.

How Search Engine Marketing Helps Your Business (A Primer)

Google search results for Erik Deckers

Do you know how search engines can help your business?

Are you hearing new terms like “search engine marketing” and “online marketing,” and wondering if it’s even important? Or do you think that people in your industry aren’t using search engines to find your company, because most of your sales come from offline results?

If you think so, you’d be wrong. Just because you aren’t getting sales through your website doesn’t mean no one in your industry is getting sales that way. It just means you’re missing an important revenue stream.

How big is search engine marketing?

According to a February 2010 SearchEngineLand blog post, Google reports 34,000 searches per second. That works out to 2 million searches per minute, 121 million per hour, 3 billion per day, 88 billion per month.

So if you think that “no one searches for us,” or “our customers don’t Google us,” how do you know? What stats have you looked at to tell you that no one is Googling your site? And if they’re not Googling your site, is it because no one in your industry uses the Internet, or is it because your website lives on page 6 and no one goes that deep into the results? (Hint: It’s the latter.)

To paraphrase Gary Vaynerchuk,

“If you’re not using (Google) because you’re in the camp that thinks it’s stupid, you’re going to lose. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s stupid. It’s free communication, and there’s a crapload of users.”

While Gary was originally talking about Twitter, the idea is still the same. People use Google, and they’re looking for you. The problem is you’ll never know it, because they’re finding your competitors instead.

Compete.com traffic measurement shows need for search engine marketing

Want to see? Go to Compete.com and type in your URL and the URLs of your biggest competitors and see where you rank on web traffic. If you haven’t done much on search engines, you’ll see your competitors pulling down bigger traffic results than you.

Those traffic results equal sales. Even if your competition is only closing 1% of their web traffic, that’s a lot more than you’re closing.

But my site appears higher on Bing than it does Google. Shouldn’t I focus on Bing?

While Bing may be great in some things, and they have cool TV ads, Google is still by far the dominant search engine. They control 71.59% of the total search engine market. Yahoo and Bing own 14.28% and 9.87% respectively.

Bing is even starting to partner with Facebook, and will provide some of their search results over there. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to crush Google. It only means they’re going to eat away at some of their market share.

For marketers, this means you should focus most of your attention on Google right now, because that’s where most of your traffic is going to come from. If you can win some Yahoo/Bing searches, that’s great, but Google is where you should be focusing your attention at the moment. (And if Yahoo/Bing/Facebook ever gives Google a run for their money, you’ll be able to optimize for Bing as well, when the time comes.)

So what does improved SEO mean to me?

Here are a few reasons you need to focus on search engine marketing as part of your marketing efforts:

  • Increased web traffic means increased sales. The more qualified traffic you bring in, the more money you can make.
  • Search engine traffic is easier and more cost effective than traditional marketing. You don’t have to spend as much money on Internet marketing as you do on traditional marketing. The average month’s Internet marketing spend can be a fraction of your marketing spend on radio & TV spots, billboards, print advertising, or trade shows. A basic Internet marketing campaign can cost as little as $2,000 per month. (When I was in the poultry business, our minimum budget for a trade show was $2,000 for a 10×10 booth at a three day event in another state.)
  • You can track Internet marketing through packages like Google Analytics. You can’t track the effectiveness of billboards, broadcast or print ads. Sure, you can count how many calls you get, but do you know how many people saw or heard those ads? What’s the actual percentage of people who called you? With Internet marketing, you can see the who, what, when, where, and how of each customer. You can see which strategies succeed, and focus more energy on those, while dumping those that don’t perform.

What is a search engine marketing campaign worth to you?

Let’s say your biggest competitor gets 5,000 leads per month on their website, and they do a rather poor job of search engine optimization themselves, which means they’re ripe for the picking.

And let’s say some basic SEO and blogging could siphon off just 10% of their traffic. That’s 500 more leads to your site per month.

And let’s say 10% of those leads — 50 people — are truly qualified. They’re not gawkers, not people out for a stroll, but are actual potential buyers and decision makers. You set up a process where people who match your ideal customer are funneled into your system, and the non-qualified customers are funneled out. So your web traffic is up, and you’re getting 50 new actual, solid leads per month.

You’re good at your job, so you close 10% — just 5 people — of those qualified leads. Remember, if they’re qualified, it means they’re very interested in what you sell. You don’t have to convince them to buy what you’ve got, you just have to show them you’re the best.

Let’s say you’ve got a high dollar item, and make $10,000 on a single sale. Closing five of those sales just added $50,000 to your bottom line.

A single sale would have paid for the $2,000 per month investment you just made, and netted you $8,000. But we now have an ROI of 2,500%, which not only paid for the $2,000 per month fee, but got you enough money to hire someone to handle the new workload (and you just earned it in a single month).Line graph

Admittedly, these are some hypothetical numbers, but you see my point. If you want to get an idea of what search engine marketing can do for you, do some basic research:

  1. Find out who the leader in your industry is.
  2. Use Compete.com to figure out your web traffic versus theirs.
  3. Then figure out how it would improve your bottom line if you could take just 10% of their traffic, and close 10% of those new leads.

Once you know this, don’t worry about how much an Internet marketing program will cost. Worry about how much it’s costing you by not doing it. If you were our hypothetical business, the old school methods are costing you $50,000 per month.

And one day, they’re going to cost you a lot more, because one day, your competitor is going to figure out how to do this stuff for themselves.

Five Blogging Secrets for Lawyers

We speak to a lot of lawyers about how they can use blogging to help promote their practice without violating their state’s marketing guidelines. Many attorneys are realizing that social media is a great legal marketing tool, and many of them are trying to learn how to use it.

The problem a lot of attorneys have in their marketing is that they are not allowed to use “competitive” language — we’re the best, we’re better, or ranked number one in our field — and they can’t offer guarantees. This means they have to tread carefully on their TV and phone book ads. That’s why you hear/read things like “tell them you mean business,” “we fight for you,” and “we don’t handle anything except personal injury.”

We’ve found that many attorneys are wary about blogging, but that it’s the smaller firms who are quick to embrace it. The larger, older firms are still not too sure whether they want to get mixed up in it, which means the small firms are getting there first, and finding great success in leaving the larger firms behind.

The biggest reasons for lawyers to blog are to show up higher in search engines (many people are turning away from Yellow Pages and doing searches for things like attorneys via Google), and to demonstrate to clients that they have the ability and knowledge to handle their particular needs. (We’ll discuss why attorneys need to blog at a later date.)

Here are five ways lawyers can blog without violating their state’s marketing rules

  • Talk about legal news. Talk about things happening in your state or other states. This helps you keep up with what’s going on in your community
  • Talk about developments in your field. If you work in intellectual property, talk about intellectual property news. If you work in personal injury, talk about personal injury law. This shows that you keep up with developments in your field, showing potential clients that you’re working to stay up-to-date with important information.
  • Write case studies. Check out important cases in the news (not your own, since you have to worry about attorney-client privilege), and do an analysis of the ramifications of that case. This is especially important as you discuss cases in your field.
  • Review basic laws for potential clients. We do this for one client — we talk about local and state laws that might affect citizens of that state, like how local vandalism laws might affect their Halloween pranks, tailgating laws in time for football season, and what to do if you want to start a business.
  • Answer legal questions from readers. Address some interesting or unknown points, teach people a little about the law, and give basic guidance to people so they understand how to pursue their legal questions further. I understand you can’t give legal advice, so it will be important to point out that this is not advice, but is used for educational purposes.

Social Media EXPERT Needed in Washington DC (No, Seriously)

I’m typically not in the business of posting job openings on this blog.

I leave that up to fellow writer, Evan Finch, who publishes the Naptown Job Swap, a job opening and candidate blog for creative services in Indianapolis. But this job posting on Mashable caught my eye:

Social Media Expert (Business Analysis Experience Required) for Primescape Solutions.

Here’s a “quick” look at what they’re looking for. (I put “quick” in quotes, because this Faulkner-esque job description is only three sentences long, but just doubled the size of the Internet.)

One of Primescape Solutions’ customers is responsible for interacting with international audiences on topics including Climate Change, Culture, Global Financial Issues, and Education. They are ramping up the use of multiple communications mediums ranging from traditional to new and innovative tools such as web-based social media and mobile devices.

This person will need to interact with senior executive leadership and global users, will need to be constantly learning about new communications technologies, and will be in a position to be a subject matter expert on the use of new, social, and innovative technologies to meet the needs of our customers’ unique communication challenges.

There’s an ongoing debate over what social media experts should call themselves, and should they even call themselves experts. In past discussions, I have seen people call themselves:

  • Guru
  • Superhero
  • Ninja
  • Rockstar
  • Knight
  • Professor

All cleverness aside, this job posting should remind people that if you want to be taken seriously, use real job titles. I have never seen an ” HR Ninja” or “Cost Analysis Rockstar.” And I’m pretty sure Primescape — with all their huge issues like Global Freaking Finance — doesn’t want to get into the whole “there’s no such thing as a social media ‘expert'” debate with you.

These are guys in suits. Guys who deal with big pictures and big companies. They don’t want ninjas and they don’t want non-experts. Either go expert or go home.

If we want people to take social media seriously, we need to stop pooh-poohing the expert mantle. As big companies start looking to adopt social media, they’re going to want people who not only know what they’re doing, but who say they know what they’re doing. And if you’re still playing on the little kids’ swingset, they don’t want you.

So, if you believe you’re an expert, say so. Don’t shirk it, don’t duck it. If you’re widely regarded as an expert in this field, then man up (or woman up), and be one. Because the bigger companies are looking for you.

Photo credit:

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My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy, who I also helped write Twitter Marketing For Dummies (another affiliate link).