Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Little Space To Chat Is Becoming Two Years Old!

¡Happy 2nd Anniversary!
It's simply incredible that two years ago I started writing this blog, with the idea of ​​creating a small space to talk and share with you, to learn from each other and have fun.

I remember my shy, first entry "I'm online with my first blog!" 

Much water has passed under the bridge since that time. It's really amazing the many people I have had the opportunity to meet along the road. Wow!

And today, I want to thank you, again, for taking time off your day to come by and visit this blog, for sharing with me your comments, honor me with your presence and, on top of everything, for allowing me to enter your live for those precious minutes you spend reading the things I write.

It has been a phenomenal experience for me to see how, step by step and little by little, this blog has been growing, maturing, creating its own voice, my voice, with which I greatly enjoy sharing with you the things that I know and learn about those I don't, sharing with you experiences from my professional career and from life itself, because, I believe after all, both in life as well as in business, what matters most is the relationships that are built between us.

Thanks a lot and always for being there, always present! 

As a token of my gratitude, here I've put together for you, as I did last year, a selection of the most read articles over the last twelve months, carefully chosen, always hoping they will continue to provide you with something positive for your business and personal life.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Can I Build My Company With A 2.0 Mentality?

Having a 2.0 mentality.
We continue to hear in social networks conversations about the fact that there are still many companies which don’t understand completely the benefits they can receive from their participation in social networks, how they can calculate the ROI from their social media presence and many other things on the same order.

A few days ago, a fellow blogger to whom I regularly read, Inma Jimenez, published a post which was about how difficult it is to explain how social media works and the benefits it can bring to business to a person who doesn't use social media, and a few months back in this blog, another very dear friend of mine, Joaquin Gomez Moreno, answered the question, in a very practical and unique way, on his post: Can A Soap Handicraftsman Be Social? Chatting with Ana Garcia, Soap Handicraftsman.

But still it looks like, in despite of all the efforts people specialized in the social media industry do in commenting about the subject, talking and explaining the benefits a social media strategy can bring to your business, the social media thing continues to fall into a gray area, hard to understand and therefore difficult to be properly evaluated by you, the business owner.

Where do I think the problem might be?

"All I want is to sell more", yes but do you really know what “selling” means?

Obviously, the goal of many companies which rush to promote their business through social media is to bring in more sales. After all, what’s the point on investing such an amount of time and money, if business volume is not going to increase as well?

Almost all of us agree about this and have it clear. But I am positive you probably don’t realize completely the selling process goes far beyond what you mean when saying "sales".

On a very simple way, the "selling" process has three clearly defined stages: before, during and after the actual sale is done.

The Selling Process.

  • Before: Your potential customer becomes aware your business exists and enjoys a reasonably good reputation, that you have a product which can meet his desires and needs, knows where to buy it and, ideally, has had the opportunity to get recommendations from its friends or acquaintances about you. Has not yet made the decision to buy from you, but it’s getting closer.
  • During: It’s the actual transaction itself. The glorious time in which your customer gives you his money (or the payment method you prefer) in exchange for your product or service. There is little more to it. The actual sale occurs here. That’s what you are actually referring to when you say "I want to sell more", what you really want is to generate a larger volume of sales, more transactions and thus earn more money.
  • After: This is what happens after your customer has made the purchase of your product or services. Many companies refer to it on their communications but very few value it the way they should. The “after-sale” time is when you can build up customer’s loyalty winning them for life or losing them irretrievably. If everything goes well, your client will end up recommending your product to others and will continue to make business with you. If everything goes well.

If you take notice, the “before” and “after” stages represent your relationship with customers: During the “before” stage (or period before the sale) you make a strong effort to make your products visible, bring them closer to all those who can buy it, educate people about its features, and to promote your company’s reputation within its own industry.

Even though you are not generating actual "transactions" at this time, you are making it easier for your target market to have all the information they might need about your products or services so they can have it in the top of their minds when the decision-making time arrives.

And “after” the sale is done, your mission is (or should be) to make sure all things go well on your customer’s side, keep them satisfied, happy and willing to do business with you again and recommend you with others.

So where does social media fit within the selling process of your business?

Because of their wonderful ability to develop relationships and interactions with your target market, social networks can actually play an important role in your selling process, as long as you aren’t simply interested in generating more "transactions" and nothing else.

I’ve had the opportunity to work for "transactional" companies which were only concerned about generating more transactions, companies for which a client withdrawing their services or being upset did matter very little.

If this is your case, if you care little about the before and after stages in the selling processes of your business, then there is little you can find in social media, as they will not offer you a transactional channel.

How can you build your business with a 2.0 mentality?

But if instead, you fully realize the value of developing a close relationship with your clients, before and after the actual sale, even during the transaction itself, then social media can definitely be a powerful ally to growing your company.

But first, there must be a mentality change: Any change must start with yourself, and if you do not have a 2.0 mentality, it’s going to be very difficult for your company to have it.

Where can you start from?

  • Understand you’re doing business with people not with numbers.
  • Be sure to treat your customers as you would like them to treat you, before, during and after the sale.
  • Keep in mind that, in order to sell more, you have to build more and better relationships with your customers and your market.
  • Think of your sales as a process that goes far beyond pure commercial transactions. Each sale is the result of a job well done.
  • Value social networks as just the tools to achieve a goal, and not as the goal themselves.

By following these simple tips, I’m sure your actions in social media, and outside as well, will really help you in developing your business.

Related posts in this blog:
“I want to be in social networks but don’t know where to start with.”
Relationship value: What can you expect from social media?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Facebook: I Give You 1$ If You Say You Like Me!

Last week I had the opportunity to share on my Facebook page, the video of a campaign which for me had quite an interesting way to generate user interaction. It was the "Pepsi Creates The" Like "Machine" video. 

Here you have it so you can enjoy it yourself.

Initially for me, the creative approach the company used was great: Gathering that many people around a soda vending machine, interacting with each other, having a good time, I truly felt it was great.

However, a good friend of mine and highly skilled social media professional, Pilar Perez Baz commented (she was certainly right I must admit) that: "It’s normal to see a lot of people “negotiating” with Facebook Likes because they don’t know any better, however it surprises me to see Pepsi doing it as well”.

And she is absolutely right!

What does Facebook recommend if you want to increase your "Likes" count?

For the campaign mentioned above, the goal was to increase the fans base of Pepsi Cola’s Facebook page in a major European city. To do this, the company designed and built a special soda vending machine. Their objective was to get more fans.

Facebook's recommendations about what you can do to get more "Likes" for a page are just four and, moreover, they’re quite simple:
  • Get in contact with all your friends and invite them to “Like” your page. 
  • Send a letter to all your customers, suppliers and acquaintances, by e-mail or as you find it easier, and let them know you have a Facebook page and invite them to click on the "Like" button to receive updates from your company.
  • Customize your Facebook page’s URL and make sure to include it in all your company literature so that people can see it.
  • Promote your page using Facebook ads to reach a larger audience. 
As you can see, there is no recommendation to offer something in exchange for your audience’s Likes other than content your company posts.

Where do I see the flaw in this campaign?

After reviewing the video several times, I found the narrator saying, perhaps without being completely aware of the full meaning of his words: "Pepsi created the first machine that doesn’t accept money but" Likes" in exchange of products."

Putting it all together, I came to understand what my colleague truly meant: It doesn’t matter whether the company, in this case, has to pay very little or even no money to produce a can of soda. They are exchanging their product for their customers’ “Like” on a Facebook page.

Let me explain you how: If you were to put a 50 cents face value to each can, for instance, and the campaign generated 5,000 new "Likes", you would immediately realize the actual cost of the campaign was $ 2,500 to acquire those new followers, therefore the company actually paid to get these fans, and that’s not what Facebook recommends.

Maybe that’s why people say "kisses that are bought, don’t taste the same":-D

How could they have done it differently?

It's definitely something worth thinking seriously and twice. The strategy used by the company to create a soda vending machine is not new. Coca-Cola, their lifelong competitor, has done the same thing in Indonesia.

However, the way Coca Cola implemented its campaign was very different: They also gave users free product samples, but not in exchange of "Likes" on their Facebook page, no. They did ask customers for a hug.

Yes! The only thing users had to do was physically hug the machine to get their free Coke can. The company was not expecting to increase their fans number on Facebook but to generate a different and funny interaction between users.

Here's the video for you to enjoy as well.

Which do you find a more interesting strategy? Which do you think generated a more positive brand impact?

Personally I prefer Coca Cola’s approach, because their interest was not to win more followers, but to make people spend a little time on a different way, smiling and having fun. They did not ask them to do anything else.

So, don’t ever use the "I give you 1$ if you say you like me” approach on Facebook.

Instead sharpen your strategy so that your users and fans genuinely fall in love with the content your company posts and shares, because that’s the best way to really develop long-lasting, valuable relationships.

Related articles in this blog:
Facebook: A City Full of Vendors.
Relationships Value: What Can We Expect From Social Media?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Actions Can You Take In Social Networks That Might Be Really Effective?

How To Be More Socially Effective
Although there are no shortcuts to developing successful strategies on social networks, there are some actions that many professionals recommend, which have been proven effective throughout time and generate a positive interaction with your audience as well.

You must always keep in mind that participating in social media demands a significant amount of time and because of that, it’s not to be considered a free activity.

In addition, there are no shortcuts or magic formulas so that you can get immediate results, and finally, your participation in social media can’t replace the impact created by a low quality product.

How to really get involved in your social media strategy?

Having these three things clear, you can actually get truly involved in your social networking activities, implementing the following tips and analyzing the results you get for every specific product.

1.) Always be grateful: Being polite doesn’t mean you’re not strong, and thanking your customers for their purchase, your followers for their support, people who visit your blog and comment on your posts, is a very positive detail on your side which always generates a positive reaction (well, in most cases).
Try, for example, to make it a habit to write at least a few thank-you notes every day to see how it works for you. You will be amazed with the results.
2.) Try to give things away when you can: Only offering discounts on products, doesn’t always guarantee the best results. If you have the opportunity to give away something, you will cause a positive impression. Give away your knowledge, your experience, add value to your industry, the society, make online seminars, white-papers on specific topics of interest.
Free quality content always adds value and is positively received. Many people appreciate it and, eventually, these actions will help you turn visitors of your website or readers of your blog, to actual paying customers for your company.
3.) Listen first, then talk. It’s not only good advice but shows also good manners. Listening carefully to what’s happening in social networks within your industry can open up new business opportunities for your company.
Some companies have managed to detect conversations related to their business, such as a hotel listening to a user complaining about being waiting for a long time in the reception of another hotel. The hotel takes the opportunity to contact this user and simply shows its empathy for such a situation and wishes the “competitor” comes along to service the user as it deserves and offers itself as an option for a future opportunity.
What do you think will happen next? For sure that use, who isn’t having a good time today, will take the gesture in consideration for its next trip and consider the hotel as an option to stay only for having shown interest in offering their best service, won’t hesitate to recommend it to his friends. You can also do the same thing: listen actively so that you can then talk more effectively.
4.) Be always yourself. There is a tendency in social networks to try and over make up the image of the products, brands and people, and that's not necessary. Quite the opposite: The more authentic and transparent you are, you will have a better opportunity to create a stronger empathy with your audience.
Your customers want to do business with you, not a fictitious image of you or your company or product. Hasn’t it happened to you when you go to a fast food place, you get all excited looking at pictures in the menu, and then you just have the disappointment of confirming how different the actual food looks, or has it?
Well the same thing happens in social networks. Be yourself, vulnerable, human, real, and you will see you’ll get better results on the long road.
5.) Try to respond to everyone: Again, whenever possible. There is nothing more unpleasant than sending someone a direct message (either a mention on twitter, direct message, an email, a mention on Facebook or things like that) and not receiving a response.
If you don’t build the habit of responding to people who want to communicate with you, then you're missing important opportunities to improve the services you offer to your customer or even losing new business opportunities.
Replying is paramount especially when you receive complaints from your customers. Never delete or ignore them outright. It's a recipe for disaster. Remember the problem isn’t your company making a mistake, but it is not recognizing it and apologizing if it were the case.
6.) Do more talking and less selling: The real power of social networks is the ability it gives you to tell stories, to share content and not only to promote your products. You will get the stronger impact when the stories are true and may reflect your customers’ own experiences with your company and its services.
The sales speech is known around the world and we’re all used to it. Instead, try a different approach and tell real stories which add more value to relationships, and generate more nutritious interactions both for your audience and for the company itself.
And if you get your story to be sufficiently valuable and interesting to your audience and they identify with it and share it with their friends, then you have hit the sweet spot.
Those are just some of the things that you can try out to develop more positive interactions with your audience, generate positive results and push the growth of your company or brand.

Can you think of any others actions you might use to generate positive impact with your social media strategy?

Related poin this blog:
15 most common mistakes in Social Media strategies (Part I)
What Does A Barbie™ Have To Do With Your Personal Brand?
Social Media: How To Destroy A Relationship In Less Than 24 Hours.