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Full Transcript of Episode 89: Social Networking for Business
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Hello and welcome to Episode 89 of a Virtual Perception. I am Darlene Victoria Gonzalez, your host. Today’s podcast is all about social networking.
It’s been a while since I’ve covered this topic on my podcast. In fact, I think the last time that I spoke about social media or social networking specifically was some time last year. Social media is not going away. And if you are a business owner, like most, you are trying to figure out ways to utilize social media and social networking for business.
Today’s guest, Brian Bosilico of B2B Marketing, talks with me about social networking and social networking specifically for business. We talk about things like how to engage your audience on Web sites like Twitter or Facebook. We talk specifically about Facebook topics such as Facebook landing pages and utilizing Facebook for your business. We also talk about how not to dilute your message when you’re using social media. Brian also brings up some great points and information, as well as resources for social networking for business.
So without any further delay, here is my conversation with Brian Bosilico.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: I have with me on the podcast Brian Bosilico of B2B Interactive Marketing. And he’s here today to talk about social networking and how social networking can help you with your business.
So Brian, welcome to the podcast.
Brian Bosilico: Hi, Darlene. How are you today?
D. Victoria Gonzalez: I’m doing very well. How are you?
Brian Bosilico: I’m good. It’s been a crazy, busy day as usual. But I’m glad I’m able to be able to take a little time out and spend some time talking to you and your guests.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Thank you. Before we actually jump into social networking – because we have quite a bit to cover – why don’t you take a moment to share a little bit about who you are, your business, and what you do.
Brian Bosilico: Sure. My background goes back quite a way, and I’ll try to give a very short tweak. I started out actually in my own home-based business when I was 18 years old. So it’s been a number of years – and I can tell you the number – but I’ve been running businesses for myself for a long time. And I’ve also had the opportunity to work at some large corporations: AT&T, Arthur Andersen, things like that.
But the focus of everything that I’ve done has been on marketing and technology, using computers, and trying to find ways to make this messaging component of your business something that’s a) fun, b) useful, and c) measurable, so that you can actually do something and enjoy doing it, and then track the effectiveness of it so you can equate that to actually making money in your business, which is why we all run businesses – I hope.
So B2B Interactive Marketing was actually started about eight years ago. And it’s a culmination of a lot of things but primarily focuses on online marketing, meaning Web sites, email, and then, of course, with the latest innovation in social networking. That’s been a real big boom lately. So one of my focuses is speaking engagements and helping other companies set up their social media, both from a plan and from a technical standpoint, and making it work for them in cost-effective ways. So that’s really kind of the cornerstone of what my business is.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Great. When you’re talking to people and you’re out and about and educating them about social media, what’s the one question that comes up that everybody seems to ask you?
Brian Bosilico: My favorite question is – I gave a speech to a rotary group. And I went through the entire thing. They all looked very excited and compelled. Finally one gentleman raised his hand, and he just looked at me, and he said, “Why?
I had to kind of step back for a second because I was so engrained in it. I didn’t really know the answer at the time. But after I thought about it for a while and was invited back …
The reason why is because that’s where people are at. And that’s how you can communicate with people. Social media is really changing the face of the way that we communicate.
One of the things I say in my speeches is, “How many voicemail messages are you getting lately?” And most people respond, “Less.” And it’s the same thing with email. “How many emails are you getting?” And a lot of people will say, “Probably less.” And that’s because if you’re on a social network, if you’re on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any of those things, people can IM you, they can direct-message you, they can contact you immediately, and they get that immediate feedback. When somebody sends you an email, it goes in your inbox, and you can choose whether to answer it or not.
The whole way that people communicate via social networking is changing the way business communication is happening. So that’s really the why. It’s because of the way that people want to communicate with you.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Then let’s bring it one step further. Why is it important to use social media and social networking in a business?
Brian Bosilico: The reason it’s important to use social media in a business is because it’s a communication tool that people are getting more and more comfortable with. And I think the question of why is important. But I also think the question of how is much more important.
The whole part about social media, social media is not necessarily advertising. And that’s one of the things that people confuse right off the bat: “I want to get in there and I want to tell everybody about me, me, me, me.” And that’s not what people want to hear.
People go on social networking because it’s a resource to them. They can get information. There are good articles. There are tips. Today alone somebody put up on LinkedIn, “Can somebody recommend a good vendor for me to get an air conditioner?” And there were dozens and dozens of people that just immediately jumped in and said, “Try this guy,” “Try that guy,” “Try this guy.” So it’s what we call crowd sourcing. It’s a way that people communicate with each other and can recommend you, can recommend your business in a way that is not advertising. That’s one of the things I think that is really important.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Makes sense. So when you sign up for Twitter and you’re going on to different people’s pages or profiles, and all you see is, “Go to my teleseminar,” or “Check out my Web site,” or all of those things, that’s really not the right way to be utilizing social media.
Brian Bosilico: No. In Twitter, we call that twam, which is twitter spam.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: That’s a new phrase for me.
Brian Bosilico: Yes, it’s twam. That’s not what you should be doing. What you should be doing, and everything boils down to which one of the social media are you using? And where is your audience going to be?
For example, my business is called B2B, which is business to business. Consumers tend to focus more on the Facebook and Twitter side. Businesses tend to focus more on the LinkedIn side. If you’re constantly selling yourself, you’re really not going to generate the kind of response that you want.
What you have to do is you have to engage people in a way that they feel like you’re a trusted source. You’ve got to give things in order to get things back. For example, on Facebook, as a business, you’re going to want to try to post things that people would be interested in, instead of constantly sitting there and saying, “I’m giving a speech,” “Come check out my Web site,” and things like that.
Twitter is a slightly different animal. The path on which Twitter works and how many posts are in there, it’s really hard to get noticed. And then when you look at LinkedIn, LinkedIn has groups and has personal communication. So it too has a slightly different thing. But it’s still based upon what you are giving and how you are being perceived in the marketplace. Not how you sell yourself.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: How about how to actually engage people and have conversations and make those connections. What are some tips that you have for that?
Brian Bosilico: Again, it depends on your market. It depends on the people you are trying to communicate to. And it also depends on the platform.
I’ll spend a little time on Facebook, because I think Facebook is one that a lot of people get into because it’s fun, and they can communicate with their college buddies and things like that. But using it from a business standpoint, a lot of people don’t understand it.
You create your personal account, and then you jump in and you create your business account and have what’s known as a business page and things like that. The challenge there is – OK, you create the business page, then you have to get people to actually follow and fan you. And then when they do fan you, what are you giving them that is going to keep them engaged and say, “OK, B2B posted something, I’ve got to check this out,” or, “Darlene posted something, I’ve got to check this out.” You do that by finding interesting content that builds upon your brand but gives people something that is more geared towards them than geared towards you.
For example, what I do is I find interesting articles out there on social media. And I grab those articles and I try to focus on different people. I’ve got some friends that are in real estate. I’ve got some friends that are in the service business. I’ve got some that are in the retail business. So I try to pull down articles for all of them and put it into my Facebook business page so that it gives them information about how to use social media for all those different topics. That gives them a reason to want to read what I have posted. And occasionally, hopefully more often than not, they’ll actually come back and say, “That was really good,” or, “I disagree with this.” So what it does is it creates a dialogue, and all of a sudden, you’re building a relationship with those people.
That’s what working on Facebook can do to build your brand because when you’re starting to create that dialogue, you become the trusted expert for them. No matter what it is that you’re doing, as long as you’re trusted by people, then they’ll either engage you as an employee or basically a vendor. Or they’ll recommend you to somebody else who says, “Does anybody know a really good virtual assistant, a B2B marketer, a speaker for social networking?” That’s how I get a lot of my speaking engagements because people know that I go out and give speeches and that I’m somewhat of an expert. And if somebody says, “Does anybody know somebody who gives speeches on social networking?” “Call Brian.” And that happens a lot.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Since we’re talking about Facebook, let’s stay on that then. A trend that I notice in Facebook pages for business is people talking about landing pages and having a customized landing page. Can you take a few minutes and talk about that? Is a customized landing page important? And if so, what are some of the things that should be on that page?
Brian Bosilico: A customized landing page is actually an additional tab that’s put across the top of Facebook. And usually that includes something that’s called FBML, which is Facebook markup language. It’s actually an HTML code that replicates what could and usually looks like a Web page.
The way that it works is that somebody finds you in one way, shape, or form, either through – and we’ll talk a little later about how to drive fans to your Facebook account. But when they do find you, you can actually direct them so that the first thing they see is not all your posts on the wall, but this landing page. This landing page basically becomes who you are – why are you relevant to me – and it’s a little bit of an advertisement in one sense. It’s not overkill advertising. But it really kind of defines who you are.
The other thing about a good landing page is a landing page should have some kind of directive: obviously, like me. We want them to click that like button so that when you post things, they get everything that you’re posting on a regular basis, and it reminds them that you’re there. But also a really good landing page will drive them back to your Web site and get them to engage in that way too.
You can get them to sign up for your email newsletters, sign up for your blog or read your blog, or whatever it is that you’re doing. And you can create additional tabs. You can create additional tabs across the top that have signups for your email news. If you go to something like Dunkin Donuts or Coke or any of those large corporations’ landing pages, you’ll see that they have multiple tabs up there that include a lot of that information.
Having a good landing page is basically creating your first impression for people. And doing it right and driving them to do what you want them to do is a great way to get them to engage and stay consistent with you. So that’s essentially what it is.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Now for people that might not know HTML and they’re kind of like, “I can figure this out,” is it hard to figure it out on your own? Or do you think it’s something that a professional like yourself should help with? Or does it depend on the content?
Brian Bosilico: Yes, it depends on a lot of different things. I do a lot of Facebook landing pages for people. But it’s usually part of an integrated marketing campaign, meaning that we’re trying to make their Web site and their Facebook account look similar and drive them back and forth. That’s where it’s really good. There are tools out there and there are programs out there that you can use to build your own. Or you can even find plugins on Facebook.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Really?
Brian Bosilico: Sure. There are some out there that will actually auto-generate the stuff for you and allow you to plug it in. And they range in price. I’ve seen them as low as $200, and I’ve also been to webinars where they’ll charge you $1500 for them. So the prices vary and the effectiveness varies.
With Social media, just like having a landing page, if you walk into it without a plan, you’re going to basically get the results that you planned for. So the key thing is – and I don’t want to discourage anybody from trying something – but it does help to have somebody guide you through the process or do it for you.
A key example of that is I worked on a Web site for a gentleman who had a very, very limited budget. So we decided to do a single-page Web site for him. It’s a landing page so that somebody, when they typed in his Web address, got there. Of course, he wanted to add this page and that page and that page, but his budget was very limited. So I kept having to say, “Yes, we could do that, but it’s going to cost you more.”
Well, I went and checked his Web site a couple of weeks ago and looked at it. Now all of a sudden he’s got this elaborate blog page set up there. And I talked to him, I said, “Man, it looks great.” And he said, “Yes, it took me about 45 hours, but I finally figured it out and did it myself.”
Well, OK, as a business person, do you have 45 hours? Or does it make more sense to pay somebody to have it done really quickly and start reaping the benefits of it?
So there’s varying degrees. But the bottom line is just whatever you do, make sure that you have a plan for it and make sure that it looks professional and it’s not – I hate to say the word – cheesy.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Right. You keep mentioning “plan.” And actually before we put one on record, we kind of touched really slightly about how people sometimes enter social media without a plan. Can you provide some tips on how to go about setting up the social media strategy, just like the beginning steps – the baby steps – for someone who has just started their business and they think they want to use that as part of their marketing plan?
Brian Bosilico: Absolutely. First and foremost, you have to realize that all of this is not about you. If you’re in the mode of trying to sell yourself, and talk about yourself, and all of those other things, then you’re going to fail right off the bat. So the first part of the plan is to figure out whom your audience is and what they want to hear from or about. When I say “from,” I mean from you. What do they want to hear from your business and what do they want to hear about.
You have to define that. In a lot of cases, what a lot of people do, especially when they’re first starting out, is they try to shotgun everything. They really have maybe five, six different audiences. But they really don’t think about that. So they try to put it all into one message. And what they end up doing is diluting it so much that people don’t get it.
A perfect example of this is I work with a lot of nonprofits. Nonprofits have three key components. They have donors, they have volunteers, and then they have the people that they serve. So those three components are three completely separate groups that need three completely separate messages.
So you’ve got to sit down and define your strategy. What am I going to say to my donors to get them engaged in what we’re doing, make them realize that their money is being spent well, and want them to continue to donate to us? What do I say to our volunteers to thank them for the things that they do and give them engaging content that’s going to want to make them give their time to my organization versus another? And then of course, how do I reach out to the people that we need to touch and let them know that our services exist and what we can do for them? Or, how do we reach out to other people who may be able to recommend our services to the people that need it?
The same thing happens in small business. You’ve got to realize that your vendors are a group, the people that you work for are a group, and potential clients are another group. You have to think about those different strategies that you’re trying to pull together and then make a plan for each one of them. And then when you execute, you have to make sure that you’re talking to each one of them in the way they want to be talked to.
For example, some of them may want to be on Facebook, but others may be on LinkedIn. Maybe some just want emails. So for each one of those, there’s not one right strategy that’s going to communicate to all groups. You have to think about having to do three things to communicate to three different groups and take each one of those and approach it as, “I’m going to do this, and I’m going to measure it and make sure that I’m being effective for each one of those components.” So that’s really kind of the cornerstone of setting the plan.
Then the second piece of the plan is to be consistent in whatever you do. I write a weekly blog. I do with that weekly blog a weekly newsletter. And then on a daily basis, I go into Facebook, and I actually post to my audience on Facebook. And every other day, I post to my audience on LinkedIn. So for each one of my different audiences, I have a slightly different plan because that consistency is what they look for. If I don’t do the blog, it’s like, “Where’s your blog? What’s going on?”
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Is there anything additional that maybe they should know?
Brian Bosilico: Yes. On top of doing that plan, the other thing that’s really important as far as developing a plan is measurement. For example, in your Web site you may or may not have what’s known as Google Analytics on there so you can actually track how people are finding you and how much engagement you are getting from them. Are they going into your site and leaving on the first page, or are they digging down deeper? How much time are they spending? What are they spending the most time on?
Same thing goes with social media. There’s a way to measure that. In Twitter, it’s a little bit harder. But in Facebook and LinkedIn, they both have analytics tools that you can go in and actually see how people are engaging with you. I don’t think we have enough time to really dig into the nitty-gritties of those. But …
D. Victoria Gonzalez: They’re there.
Brian Bosilico: You can go in and actually measure. When you make a post on Facebook, you can actually see how many times people saw it and how many times people commented on it and so on and so forth.
The last piece of the puzzle is realize that what you’re doing here – and again I said it way earlier – is not advertising. It’s known as relationship marketing. Relationship marketing means when somebody comments on something that you post, comment back. If somebody has a question, answer it. You have to be available to engage with these people so that they feel comfortable with you. That’s really how you build this relationship. From that relationship comes trust, comes referrals, comes business.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Someone has their strategy in play, and they’re doing all of these things. Now maybe they only have five followers on Twitter, ten fans on Facebook, and maybe two or three connections on LinkedIn. What are some ways they can grow their audience?
Brian Bosilico: Absolutely. First and foremost, have real, realistic expectations. And that means that if you have 100 followers on your Facebook landing page, you’re about average. Most people don’t realize it, but the average church in America has 80 members. It’s a very small number, but it’s true. So you have to realize that the size of your audience may not be huge. Have some realistic numbers of how far you want to go with this. You can get 200 or 300 – that’s great. You’re not going to be Coke and get 650,000 in most cases.
To grow to that 100 number, what you have to do is communicate with them in every way, shape, or form possible. On your emails, make sure that on the bottom of your email signature you have a link to your Facebook landing page if you have one, or at least to your Facebook account. Same with Twitter, same with LinkedIn, same with whatever social media you’re using, whether it’s Plaxo, or Foursquare, or all of the above. But link people to it in any way, shape, or form.
If you do a blog, make sure there’s links on your blog to that. On your Web site, make sure there’s links to that. So that every communication and touch you have with people, there’s some kind of directive to follow you on any one of those social media sites. And if you haven’t printed your business cards yet, put it on there too. Make sure that you have it everywhere you possibly can so that people can know how to get in touch with you and know how to communicate with you on social media.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Question – now that you probably have an opinion on this and I kind of just want to put it out there. You’ll see on Twitter messages, “Click this link and you’ll get 20,000 followers.” I’m exaggerating.
Brian Bosilico: No, you’re not. I go to webinars all the time. And that’s one of the other things, being in the business, I’ve got to educate myself and find out what other people are doing. And I cannot tell you the number of webinars that go on Facebook that say, “There are 600 million followers.” And, “You’ve got an audience of 600 million people. You can build this massive, explosive business out of this stuff.” And the reality is no.
And it’s the same thing with 20,000 followers on Twitter. Those 20,000 followers are all doing the same thing that you’re doing. They’re not really the people that are going to engage with you and communicate with you. All they’re trying to do is build up their own library of people that they can send their marketing message to. And that’s not social networking.
If you want to get 20,000 followers, you’re basically going to be twamming everybody like everybody else. What you really should do is concentrate on people that really matter to you and your business. Then you’re going to get the greatest results. Because again, the ones that are doing 20,000 are looking for advertising. They’re not creating that relationship. And a lot of it on Twitter also depends on how people utilize Twitter.
One of the things that people don’t get about Twitter, is Twitter is one of the best search engines on the Internet. You can go in there and search for anything. I was with a client yesterday who is looking to put together or create a class of job hunters from 1920. I sat down with him and typed in jobs, my local town, Aurora, Illinois, and up came like 250 jobs that are available on Twitter that he said, “I didn’t even realize that existed.”
You can type in a question about anything that you could possibly imagine, and you will find interesting information about it. Every newspaper in the world feeds all of their stories to Twitter. So you can find articles on just about anything to research. It’s a wonderful search engine. If you sit there and try to watch it, you’re going to go blind because so much stuff is flowing down on a daily basis.
So follow the things that are important to you. If you’re in a particular industry, like I’m in the social networking business, I follow people who are on social networking. I follow Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Mashable. I find a whole bunch of things that are interesting to me so that I have the core information that I can utilize. And vice versa, I hope they follow me back so my clients follow me. You create this network of people that are near and dear to your business. Don’t try to build this fake empire of 20,000 marketers.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: You said that, and it brought up an interesting point that I just thought of. Let’s say you’re following a lot of people, but you have favorite people, like Inc. Magazine or Entrepreneur. Is there a way to – I think there is – but is there a way to subscribe to their Twitter feed and have it go to your iPhone, or a handheld device, or whatever your RSS reader is? Is there a way to do that?
Brian Bosilico: Absolutely. Yes, there is a ton of different ways to do it. First and foremost, you can do it right in Twitter by creating groups. And then you can just have that group be those newspapers and things like that so you can kind of segment them out. You can also use things like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, and you can create just to feed specifically with keywords that they would probably use. And that way you can kind of narrow it down to that section. I have different clients that use just keyword columns to narrow down the searches of things coming into them.
Yes, there’s a gazillion apps out there. There’s an app for everything. So you can find an app that will allow you to pull in specifically just want you want. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are both on iPhone and I believe on Droid, so you can get them on both of those too. There are tons of ways to do it.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Do you have any final tips that business owners should keep in mind when it comes to social networking and social media when it relates to their business?
Brian Bosilico: Actually, it’s a combination of not only tips but also reminders. First and foremost, realize that social media is a commitment. It doesn’t have to be an all encompassing thing. There’s no reason to sit on Facebook all day long.
What you should do is you should treat social media the same way you treat your email. If you jump every time an email comes in, or you jump to the phone every time the phone rings, then treat social media the same way. If you’re one of those very organized people who get up in the morning and spend 15 minutes on your email, get work done, and spend 15 minutes at night, then treat social media the same way.
I tell clients that you can do everything you need to do on social media twice a day. You can get on in the morning, find an article or something interesting to post, post it, and respond to anything anybody said overnight.
At the end of the day before you shut your computer off, do the same thing. If you find another article, post it. If not, just go look at it and see what people have posted and comment back. And interact with people. If somebody has a birthday, wish them a happy birthday. If somebody’s having an event, say, “Yes, I’m coming,” or, “No, I’m not,” and give them a reason why. But at least engage with them and create that relationship with them.
On that note, it’s the same thing. It’s relationship marketing. It does take time and it does take investment. But the return on the investment is great. I can say that 25% of my new business comes in from just being on social media.
The other part of it too is social media is an extension of personal networking. So it’s not to replace social networking or physical networking. It’s an extension of physical networking, of being out meeting people, getting their business cards, and then connecting with them. So look at that as one big pool and don’t try to separate the two as two completely separate things.
Thirdly, which I consider the most important thing about social media, is whatever you know today, it’s going to be different tomorrow because social media changes on a daily basis. In the old days we used to buy this thing called software that came in a box. And when you opened the box, it came with discs. And you plugged the discs in your computer. And you could pull out these things they used to call books. And you’d put the book down and you’d actually read it. That’s no longer the case.
What happens is you go to Facebook and the interface is different. You go to Twitter and it has new tools. They don’t tell you about it, it just shows up. So it’s a learning process. And you’ve got to be willing to adapt to this change and know that other people are in the same boat as you are.
So be ready to change and learn how this stuff manipulates. It’s not going away. So it’s best for you to embrace it and try to adapt to it as best as you can. And try to find your sweet spot with it because it’s not the same for every business or every person. It does take a little bit of learning and deciphering. How are you going to plan for it? What does your audience want to hear? Where is your audience? And then how do you utilize that to the best of your ability to make your business grow?
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Great advice. You had said you have a blog.
Brian Bosilico: I do.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: What is your blog address? And also, where can people go to learn more about you and your business?
Brian Bosilico: The easiest way to find everything about me is go to www.b2b-im.com. So its B, the number 2, B, minus sign, IM [dot] com. From there, it’s my portal to the world. There’s a blog right on there. There’s a link to my Facebook, my Twitter, my LinkedIn, my WordPress, my YouTube channel. Everything that I’m doing is right there. That’s the best way to send them off into tangents.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Awesome. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show and for sharing your knowledge about social networking. And if you’re open to it, I have so many other questions and ideas for future episodes down the line. If you’re open to it, maybe if you come back, we can talk specifically about something – maybe LinkedIn or something like that.
Brian Bosilico: I think that would be fabulous, yes. Each one of these has their own unique properties, and I would be more than happy to come back and share a little bit of that with you.
D. Victoria Gonzalez: Thank you so much, Brian, for coming on the show.
To learn more about Brian, go to www.b2b-im.com or www.avirtualperception.com and look for Episode 89’s show notes. I’ll have links to Brian’s Web site as well as some of the resources we mentioned during our conversation.
Now, if you would like to be a guest on A Virtual Perception, contact me. I’m always looking for guests to talk about information and resources that will help business owners with growing and being successful in their business, as well as finding entrepreneurs interested in sharing their entrepreneurial journey. Just go to www.avirtualperception.com and click on the “Be a Guest” link and complete the form. It’s as easy as that. I look forward to hearing from you.
You can follow the show on Twitter at AVPpodcast, follow myself on Twitter at DarleneVictoria, and become a fan of the show on Facebook at www.facebook.com/avirtualperceptionpodcast.
That does it for Episode 89 of A Virtual Perception. Thank you so much for listening. Have a fabulous week. And until next time, this is Darlene Victoria Gonzalez signing out.