Larry BraunerThere are two common reasons that you and your business might not be ready yet to take advantage of social media marketing.

It’s possible that you do not yet have a suitable website or blog site to be the hub of your social media marketing and to convert your traffic. Darren Rowse, the author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, in his video, How I Use Social Media to Promote My Blogs, explains why you’d want one:

It’s also possible that you haven’t yet created even a rough social media and web marketing plan to work with.

You’ll need to outline your marketing objectives, of course. You’ll also need to specify to whom you’re marketing and determine which subject areas are appropriate to discuss.

Then, you’ll plan a course of action that encompasses your websites, content and social sites prior to launching your social media marketing campaign.

Are you ready for social media marketing?

Larry BraunerReal estate brokers are facing very stiff competition, in part as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis and in part as a result of commoditization.

Real estate itself isn’t a commodity, but many of the brokers who sell real estate, especially residential real estate, have been losing their competitive differentiation in the market, as they are no longer the principal sources of listings and property information. Buyers can more easily obtain listings and detailed property information from online services.

What is Hyper Local Real Estate Marketing?

Real Estate MarketingReal estate brokers have long recognized the importance of keeping a high profile in the neighborhoods they serve and of conveying their neighborhood expertise to prospective buyers.

This approach to real estate marketing, with its neighborhood hyper focus, is frequently referred to as hyper local real estate marketing.

Orchestrating a hyper-local marketing campaign is extremely challenging. However, social media, such as social networking sites, blogs and mobile are making hyper local marketing more feasible and more effective, as well.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the hyper-local real estate marketing concept and have sought ways to help brokers streamline their marketing, overcome technical obstacles and create value for both hyper-local businesses and their customers.

Real Estate and Small Business Marketing Program

I’ve developed an affordable hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program that satisfies all three objectives and creates a win for brokers, hyper local businesses and consumers. The program uses search and social marketing within a supervised online environment and includes marketing and technical support.

Real estate brokers can “own” their neighborhoods in that I will only license the program to one broker or salesperson per hyper local area.

If you’re a forward-thinking real estate broker or salesperson, you can benefit by participating in this real estate marketing program and increasing your influence online and offline.

Contact me to learn more about my new hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program or pose your questions in the comments. :-)

Larry BraunerI launched my two new business networking sites with several objectives in mind. One key objective was to make available free social media marketing training, as well as other free and low-cost training to a wide small business and entrepreneurial audience.

Register now for free social media marketing training on the Small Business Networking site.

Subjects will include social media marketing, social networking sites, small business websites, blogging, SEO and web analytics.

There will be strong branding opportunities for expert instructors who wish to participate in this free social media marketing training initiative or others on the way. For free social media training, make Small Business Networking your training resource on the web. :)

Larry BraunerSocial media and other types of media revolve around the findability and value of their content.

You could use a newspaper to wrap fish or fragile belongings (ideal), a book as a paperweight (sad), a radio or television program as white noise (even sadder) or a blog to switch to, so that the boss won’t catch you playing FarmVille at work (hopefully not my readers).

Kidding aside, media are published so that their content will be consumed, and social media marketing can only succeed if its content is findable, and if the people finding that content repeatedly consume it.

Am I stating simply the obvious? Perhaps, but consider for a minute the large number of web sites with little traffic and blogs with little traction. Do you not agree that my concern is somewhat justified?

Value and findability of content to and by stakeholders are prerequisites for social media marketing success, and the optimization of each must be at the top of our social media marketing content lists.

Larry BraunerI asked on Facebook earlier today whether every small business should have a blog. My Facebook focus group provided eight responses of which six were affirmative.

Fortunately, I’m not obliged to side with the majority on such matters, and although I praise blogs in 6 Easy Ways to Integrate Search and Social on Your Blogs and elsewhere, I see a blog as one of a variety of marketing tools at our disposal.

Starting a blog requires a commitment that is inappropriate for many small businesses.

You and I can talk about thought leadership, but when an entrepreneur is already wearing five hats in his or her small business, and there’s a family at home requiring attention, starting a blog could be the very straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Outsource it? That could be pricey and, in any case, I don’t know if that is thought leadership.

Back in April, I asked: Is Going Blogless Really An Option?

My answer: “Going blogless is an option. [With some creativity] you can accomplish with a standard website most of what you’d hope to accomplish with a blog.”

If anybody says your small business must have a blog, send them to me with boxing gloves on, and the two of us will duke it out. :-P

Larry BraunerThe Business Development Institute is holding a free webinar on August 12, 2010 at 2pm ET that will discuss ways in which financial institutions are embracing social media to achieve their marketing and communications objectives.

The webinar will explain how major brands are connecting with customers, partners and employees through social media:

The Business Development Institute produces top quality events and training. I’m already registered for this one. Reserve your spot now.

Larry BraunerThis is a fairly lighthearted post, but it nevertheless outlines many social media marketing essentials.  If your online initiatives are weak in any area, you could be on the wrong track or missing key opportunities.

In the spirit of alliteration, and without further delay, here are the 10 F’s of social media marketing:

  1. Fact-findingCompetitive intelligence and market research. Know your objectives and where you stand before you begin your social media marketing, even if the picture ain’t that pretty.
  2. ForethoughtPlanning, market segmentation, positioning, keyword analysis, social media marketing landscape, etc. “The worst social media marketing advice is just jump in.”
  3. Functionality – Web site design, navigability, the area above the fold, website widgets, lead capture, etc. Basic, right? Believe me when I tell you that most web sites are dysfunctional.
  4. Findability – Maximize your use of SEO, SEM and social media marketing.
  5. Follow-through – Building relationships and converting people into consumers of your content, customers and raving fans. Once you have your plan and your websites are up, this is where most of your social media marketing effort should go.
  6. Fundamentals – Content, transparency, community, building trust, etc. Brian Kenny at the Harvard Business School says that we can’t connect via social media unless we understand the sociology of social media, which is different from the sociology of traditional media.
  7. Focus – Cast a wide social media net, but when it comes to expending time and effort, live by the 80/20 rule.
  8. Followers – Friends. Fans. People who adore your content. You need to love ‘em.
  9. Facebook – Half a billion people log into Facebook each month, including me. You should probably be on Facebook too.
  10. Friday – Have fun! Today is Friday, after all. Isn’t it? You can obsess about your social media marketing on Monday.

Larry BraunerThere were so many fine speakers at Social Convergence and the Enterprise: Case Studies and Roundtables, hosted by the Business Development Institute, that I didn’t come away with any one favorite. However, I did especially enjoy the fast-paced and data-filled keynote of Brian Kenny, CMCO of the Harvard Business School.

Brian discussed enterprise social media convergence at HBS and presented three other enterprise social media case studies, those of NASA, Intuit and Threadless. He also discussed the state of social media and the direction in which social media is heading.

Rather than attempt to summarize Brian’s keynote speech, which would be too difficult an undertaking, I’ll share with you a few of the points he made that were takeaways for me:

  • The Facebook, Twitter and YouTube social media sites are all experiencing tremendous growth, however, it’s Mobile that’s truly exploding with 6B mobile apps to be downloaded in 2010.
  • Mobile is the platform of the future. The iPhone is the smartphone of choice, at least at HBS where the iPhone is the de facto standard.
  • We can’t connect via social media unless we understand the sociology of social media, which is different from the sociology of traditional media.
  • Twitter is the preferred social medium among Forbes Fortune 100 companies.
  • Social media enables the enterprise to create communities, leverage existing ones, accelerate message distribution and collect research data via crowdsourcing.
  • It’s the marketing function that’s leading the social media revolution.
  • The three dimensions of enterprise social media convergence are across functions, audiences and platforms.

There’s no longer any time for your enterprise to sit on the social media fence, and social media marketing late adopters beware!

Larry BraunerI wrote on Online Social Networking that I entered the Perkett PR social media marketing competition while at Social Convergence and the Enterprise.

I ended up finishing 2nd in the competition and creating lots of buzz. Thank you everyone, and a special thanks to Perkett PR for the contest.

Special Facebook Event

Now, please join me at my Thank-You and Tell-Us-About-Yourself Party taking place on my Facebook page. You can meet new people and promote yourself or your cause. It will be great fun.

Larry BraunerI heard some excellent speakers present their case studies at the Search and Social Leadership Forum hosted by the Business Development Institute and NYU last week.

To wrap up the morning event, three speakers, Julie Sun, Thomas Hoehn and Jordan Glogau sat in a panel to answer questions posed by Veronica Fielding, the moderator, and afterward by attendees.

During two of the earlier talks, an increase in share of voice was cited as evidence that the presenters’ social media programs had been successful.

When my turn came to query the panel, I asked whether any formal offline marketing research had been performed to measure the effectiveness of their social media marketing endeavors. Having spent most of my career at Eric Marder Associates, a once preeminent quantitative marketing research firm, I could not let this question go by.

Besides focus groups, no offline marketing research had been done. I was surprised, frankly, that the type of quantitative marketing research I was alluding to, with controlled experimentation, didn’t even seem to be on the radar of the panelists or the audience, especially with many working at big corporations.

When I returned home, I noticed that What You’re Missing By Measuring Social Media ROI Online had been posted by Tom Webster on Brand Savant that very day. I suggest you read it. I can’t yet say whether I agree with every point Tom made, but I can say with certainty that I totally agree with the spirit of his article.

It is only fair to point out that valid marketing research is costly, but how else can we satisfactorily gauge the effectiveness of our large social media marketing initiatives?

Larry Brauner“The worst social media marketing advice is just jump in,” said Thomas Hoehn at the Search and Social event yesterday.

As Director, Interactive Marketing and Convergence Media, Tom helped Eastman Kodak overhaul its image over the past four years using the Kodak blog, A Thousand Words, and other social media.

Planning

Thomas HoehnAdvising some 50 to 75 communications and marketing professionals who were attending the event, Tom insisted that planning must come first, and that joining social sites was somewhere around step four.

I personally think it’s unfortunate that bad social media marketing advice is so readily available, and that too many marketers jump into social media marketing without adequate planning or forethought.

Consistency

“Distributed authorship,” to use Tom’s phrase, has enabled Chief Blogger Jenny Cisney and her team at Kodak to post each and every day without interruption. You must agree, that’s quite an accomplishment! Consistent blogging and social media engagement have kept the conversation going, making every moment a Kodak Moment.

Quoting Tom one last time, “The worst people can say about you is nothing!”

Please do me a favor and say something. ;-)

Larry BraunerI very much enjoyed an informative morning at the The Search and Social Leadership Forum, hosted by the Business Development Institute and NYU.

Veronica Fielding, CEO of Digital Brand Expressions, forum sponsor, treated us to a fast-moving overview of the direction digital marketing is taking.

Veronica Fielding Discusses Findability ConvergenceVeronica discussed findability, which as I understand it refers to the ability of a brand and all its associated content to be discovered and interacted with by people. She identified three key forms of findability and likened them to three forms of investment, underscoring their value and illustrating their complementary nature:

  1. Search Engine Marketing – Paid search results. Like cash, it’s instantly available.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – Organic search results. Like bonds, they’re for the long term.
  3. Social Media – Blogs and social media sites. Like the stock market, it’s volatile.

Veronica showcased companies successfully combining all three findability channels to build their web presence. We need use all three forms of outreach and to foster increased interaction and synergy between them. This is findability convergence.

Watch for more in the near future about this event and about the other excellent presenters:

Much thanks to Steve Etzler, Maria Feola and the BDI team for making today’s Search and Social Leadership Forum a big success.

There’s still space available for the next BDI event, Social Convergence and the Enterprise at NYU Midtown on July 21.

One final note: In case you’re new to this blog, we’ve reached the place where readers generally subscribe or leave me a comment. ;-)

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