My Twitter for business rules

  • No politics
  • No following back of people using software to follow me
  • No following of people who just post quotes
  • No following of those who intend to be offensive whether with swear words or wind-up comments
  • Follow genuine likeable people
  • Follow people with quality postings
  • Follow people in my business unless they transgress another rule
  • Try to tweet valuable content but not news stories followers might have seen or can see for themselves.
  • Engage with those I follow and who follow me
  • Re-tweet posts of value

I have no compunction about unfollowing people who annoy me.

Oh, and keep the politics out of Facebook and other social media too. Thank you.

Do you have a tax issue I can help you with? Get in touch and I will guide you.

 

Twitter? How do you find the time?

I was asked the above question over lunch at a meeting of tax practitioners. I was a bit surprised, but on reflection the guy asking is an employee. He is engaged to work on particular clients and tasks which are assigned to him. He does not understand what it is like to run a business. He keeps working at the coal face.

For those of us who work for ourselves, we not only work at the coal face and engage others to do so, but we have to sell the coal. Otherwise there is not much point in digging it out. We need customers.

I do not claim to be the greatest user of Twitter for business purposes. It is an important part of my marketing – not advertising because we do not use Twitter for that, do we? Interacting with my Twitter contacts means I can give business to others in order to receive. I can point people towards useful information. They might remember that information later, and remember me.

Marketing is one of the issues we manage in running a business, so we have to make time and also bill our customers enough to give them good value and make a profit.

Put like that, I think we all should be finding time to make a profit. Twitter is part of that, but try explaining that to an employee.

What works for us

 

lonleliness

Remember what works

When I started my businesses I took an ad in local monthly pamphlets which go out to probably about 20,000 homes. It worked quite well, but although I was at one time advertising in four of these booklets going to different areas, over the years I have found that two local towns did not want to buy from me. I do not understand why, but I stopped my ad in those particular pamphlets. I still have ads in the other two booklets because they do work and they reinforce my local presence.

I used to do a lot of breakfast networking. You may remember I even ran a breakfast group for a while. That helped my business locally. However, for family health reasons I backed away from that scene, and I cannot say that my business has suffered to any degree. Maybe that networking had stopped working for me, so I do not feel a great need to re-engage.  I do network face-to-face at meetings later in the day.

What works for me now in getting business is my on-line presence both through my own websites and through that of an alliance where I pay for my profile via commission when I close business received through that “external” website.

I have tried to recognise where marketing does not work or has ceased to work, and close it out. I will always try new methods too. We have to test and see what works, and notice what has stopped working, otherwise we end up wasting money and our valuable time.

Do not be lazy with your marketing because it can be expensive. I know myself it can be easy to let it slip.

 

Promoting your start-up business – Part 6 – Making business friends

 

Widen your market

Widen your market

Most start-up businesses start with one person – you. You might have one or two part-time staff or subcontractors. However there is a danger of feeling rather lonely. After all, you have to make all the decisions, and while you probably have experience of working in someone else’s business, the buck definitely stops with you now.

The good news is that you need not feel lonely. You should make some friends in your own line of work, preferably others running small businesses. Do not worry that they will try to take your clients away. There are plenty of fish in the sea. I have found that you can pick up ideas from others and perhaps you can help them too. Maybe they can help out with certain types of work you are not so keen on, do not enjoy or are simply not to skilled act. Perhaps you can help them out with their less favourite areas which you enjoy.

So that means you have a potential for getting business from your friends and acquaintances. How do you find those people?

Networking is the obvious answer, but a local trade association or professional group would serve well too. I can vouch for this. My monthly lunches with fellow professionals not only helped me feel part of the local community in my line of business, but we shared and still share problems that we come across. That sense of belonging to the group is a positive and valuable asset.

Another way of finding support from fellow-professionals and others in your business is through social media. I value greatly the friendship and camaraderie from people in my line of business with whom I have connected on Twitter. Sharing repartee and swapping business has been very valuable for me and Twitter is a great asset. Of course I have shared business from people in other lines of business through Twitter, and gained work from them as well as having subcontracted to them. Any way you can get known is useful marketing.

I talk to people through LinkedIn too and contribute to the discussions with specialist forums, but Twitter has built my on-line community rapidly, and I have added many to my LinkedIn contacts later. Twitter and LinkedIn have helped my businesses transform from local to national and beyond in terms of where my clients are located.

Consider having a Facebook page for your business and make sure you are active with a business page on Google+, not only to build your community but also because Google will help people to your website and your business once it knows where you are.

The more people you know, the better it is for support for your business and the more business will come your way. If you remember that as with face-to-face networking it is a matter of “give and take”, with perhaps more giving of referrals than taking, actually you will receive a great deal of business.

Get out there virtually as well as physically.

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The meaning of influence in networking

Photo by LordNikon

Photo by Lord Nikon

These days in business marketing, and especially on-line, we hear a huge amount about influence. How much influence does a marketer or networker have?

In social media, some measure influence in terms of their Klout or PeerIndex score. Actually they are very crude tools, especially Klout. What they really measure is how much we Tweet or post on Facebook. PeerIndex does index blogging, but all these tools really measure is how much noise we make on-line.

It is the same with off-line networking. We may put out our message to the room and we may do so in a very loud voice. We might go to every networking meeting there is in our area and eat breakfast out every day of the week. However it does not mean we will get loads of business.

The confusion is between, on the one hand, being seen everywhere trilling our message on Twitter or over our scrambled eggs, and on the other, our networks actually listening to us and taking notice because they believe we have something to offer. It is easy to shout the loudest and most often, but more difficult to get over our message that we are people to be trusted with business.

We do not want our Tweet or a fried breakfast message being taken with more than a pinch of salt. We need to be genuine, sincere and ourselves to get that trust, don’t we/

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The ignorant blunderbuss approach to sales and marketing

26 Feb 12 upload 024 (2)Knowing our abilities and our limits

My business is helping people with their tax issues, and finding help to support their businesses. I know a lot about how to do that, and that is down to hard work, training and experience. I am not an expert in health and safety or financial advice or insurance or carpet-laying. I would not dream of trying to advice on the first two or get on my knees on the floor to trim a carpet to size. There are people who are much better at doing that.

I am not an expert in social media (no such person) though I know a bit, read what I can about on-line engagement, and learn from people who know more. I pay those people who know more for their advice and for their knowledge. I am their client.

Blundering

So why is it that people blunder into an area, and think they can succeed without studying how it all works, and looking at what the more successful people do. Accountants make that mistake with social media, but so do web-designers and SEO specialists, and, heck, they must spend quite a lot of their lives on-line.

What do you make of a business which says in its Twitter profile: “We are one of the Most Reputed Online & Local Business Branding SEO  SMO Company” and then just tweets from a tech news feed it doesn’t own, with no personal interaction?

What about “Welcome to Prince and Draper’s Twitter page, we are Hertfordshire-based accountants and advisors”? (I changed the name and County). They hardly ever tweet, there is no actual person or photo of the very occasional poster / profile owner

How about a Twitter account in the name of a firm of solicitors “Proud to offer competitive fixed fees across our company / commercial and private client departments” again with no personal interaction.? As an aside, I hate to see “proud” to do anything in a website or marketing page. Why not say how they can help; ease the pain? I despair.

Blunderbuss or scatter-gun?

I was at a business exhibition the other day. I spoke to many people on the various stands and gave my business card to some. Both at the exhibition and since, over the telephone, I have been subjected to sales talk re various products. No one has asked how their product might suit my business. All have been eager to state what discount I would be getting and giving me the whole script. I appreciate they have to make a living, but they won’t if they do not think about the customer.

Why not study the potential customer and think how they might meet the customer’s requirements?

You and I know that we need to give our customers what they want, and that involves listening, not broadcasting a message. It is no good setting up a Twitter page and misusing it, or not using it. It is no good spouting a sales pitch to a business owner you don’t know and have not bothered to find out about.

These poor people are wasting their time. The trouble is they waste ours too, don’t they?

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The Smart Aleck networker

iStock_000007991360XSmall cross businesswomanDo you know that person at your networking meeting? The one with the loud voice, saying “Hey, look at me”? The one who is always telling everyone how great their business is as opposed to the competition? In fact, the person who always disses everyone else as being inferior?

We try to avoid those “networkers”, don’t we? We try to get as far as possible from them as we can. We can do without those boorish opinions, and we know they will never connect us or refer us because they are too busy thinking about themselves.

It is the same in the world of social media. There are people who claim superior knowledge not just in their line of business but in every aspect of of the world. They rubbish other users of Twitter, they give their opinion of those who hold a different view within their expertise, they show their political prejudices by rubbishing certain politicians, and they have those Smart Aleck comments about any and everyone who doesn’t agree with their bigoted views.

We avoid that sort of person when eating our bacon roll at the local breakfast meet, and thank goodness we can un-follow them on Twitter and un-friend them on Facebook once we see the cut of their jib.

I don’t reckon the Alecks and Alecksandras get much business from their networking, but they are too arrogant to understand why.

Don’t you avoid them like the plague?

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How to make your business personal

TweetdeckThe uninitiated

I am active in social media as you know, and you probably would not have found this blog if you were not also active.

The other day I was explaining to some fellow tax practitioners how useful I find social media, and particularly in the course of business. I told them that on Twitter in particular the interaction with other businesses helps me build relationships and I have a bigger pool of people to whom I might refer work for my clients or for myself. I feel I know many of my Twitter contacts because I see them talking, or talk to them on a regular basis.

Twitter feeding

So Twitter is part of my referral networking strategy and so are Facebook and LinkedIn as are various other social sites. However Twitter is also one of my means of keeping up with the latest news in my business niche, good and bad. Many of my contacts (I follow them and they follow me) have their ears to the ground for the latest breaking stories via the newspapers, websites and professional magazines. Some of them are writers and journalists in the business. They know what is going on, and therefore I know what is going on. Sometimes I can even add to what they know, and so it all goes around.

Interacting with my on-line friends is therefore part of my marketing strategy, and also part of my professional development, because it helps me know what is going on in a business environment which is forever changing. Talking with these friends allows them to form their opinions of me as well as my having impressions of what they are like.

Making it personal

In the end it comes down to building and imprinting a personal brand on my business. People buy me, or choose not to sometimes, based on what they already know of me.

The tax people to whom I was trying to explain all this did not understand what I was saying. They all work for larger firms than mine. I guess none of them is responsible for marketing. They do what they do within their firms. They think that they don’t have the time to use social media because they believe it is a waste of time.

Maybe it is a waste of time for some, but more people know who you are and I am than know any of these partners and managers in bigger businesses. We also know more people who are valuable to us in our work, and we know all the latest news in our industry as it happens. We are less likely to be caught out by a customer, a client or a prospect.

People know us professionally; who we are, what we do and what we are like in business. That is personal branding, isn’t it? Doesn’t it make us so much more approachable?

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Social media gaming and business reputation

iStock_000005618867XSmallI care about my business reputation. Of course it is up to you what you think about my tweets and my Facebook posts, but I can assure you they are all authentic and deliberate. Everything everywhere which is under my name, out on the web, is something I have thought about, even if not much. 🙂 There is no automation other than the odd feed from my blog posts, but they are of my original content.

I see other people who automate their tweets, presumably to help their Klout scores and to boost their SEO or whatever. I have no idea if it works, but if you are like me you unfollow people who just put out automated tweets of quotations from famous people. It really is lazy to tweet second-hand material nobody cares about.

What is even worse is those who tweet or post automated feeds for which they are not responsible at all. Some attach their feeds to news stations or business sites, but many of the stories they appear responsible for are inappropriate for their business, with more raunchy celebrity news or reports of kayaking or something. That’s fine if you are in show biz reporting or sports, but not if you are in invoice discounting or factoring. It makes you look ridiculous.

You have to be careful tweeting feeds from specialist forums too, especially if you don’t monitor your output. Public forums are going to be spammed, and I saw a tax practice tweet spam about Viagra as a result. No doubt the forum moderator deleted the post, but our Twitter friend still had a dodgy web-link out in the ether.

Not everything I tweet is about my business. I post what I find interesting. I have conversations. So do you, I expect.

None of us uses social media perfectly and certainly not I, but we all do have to be sensible and be able to stand by our posts. Don’t we?

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An Innocent in Social Media Marketing Wonderland

 

English: The Mad Hatter, illustration by John ...

English: The Mad Hatter, illustration by John Tenniel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

`You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that “I tweet when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I tweet”!’

At least that is what the Dormouse might have said nearly a century and a half on. I don’t know about you, but while I am very interested in social media, and indeed social media marketing, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about either, but I do my best with the marketing bit and I try to learn from others. I buy in some help, mainly in the area of on-line learning. I also belong to various Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and follow the most interesting marketers on Twitter.

Many of the lovely people who run the various groups or whose pages I “like” send me marketing messages from time to time. I always like to know about new content. Who doesn’t? The content for so many is what sells their paid stuff. It is the same for me in that it is content which convinces people that I and my business are the right people to help them.

However it is a well known rule of Twitter that you do not sell, but you offer valuable content, with just the occasional “infomercial”. Otherwise you end up annoying people and being unfollowed, which is unfortunate if you hope that now and again a follower will buy from you.

So why is it that some nice people with huge Twitter followings and successful blogs in terms of visits seem to achieve this while sending out automated marketing emails and Tweets to their blogs morning, noon and night? It is not even as though most of it is new stuff. Some email me daily or overnight every night with the same content, over and over again.

I am inclined to unfollow / unsubscribe, and in some cases I have. However, I would like to know whether relentless pushing of the same stuff is effective in selling, and whether the mantra about not selling on Twitter is valid in social media marketing best practice?

I would love to know what you think because I am as confused as Alice was at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

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