Monday, February 21, 2011

Feed Your Customers With Social Media

10 Ways To Feed Your Customers With Social Media

Using social media simply as a tool to market to potential new customers is missing a huge part of what social media can do. Use your social media efforts not only to acquire new customers and clients but also to find ways also to increase your connection with existing customers.

Another way of looking at this idea is to say that you should use social media to feed or nourish your existing customers in a way that keeps them coming back for more and that makes them want to continue the relationship with you.

Here are 10 ways to feed your customers with social media:

1. Share information. Providing valuable information not only in your niche but in theirs is an excellent way to feed your customers through social media. Find success stories, how-tos and other articles to share. Make your social media profile more than just a place to re-broadcast and publicize your own articles and blog posts, but also a place for sharing the latest relevant information in your niche or industry from a variety of sources.

2. Share tips. Don’t stop at articles and the latest info. Tips that can improve your customers’ business and your own will help you chart a path together moving into the future and of sharing knowledge with your team, partners and other customers and clients (or pretty much anyone linked to you via social media.) More than the latest news, you can be a source of professional improvement and education in both your own industry and those dominated by your clients.

3. Introduce them to friends. Some business leaders believe that introducing their clients, partners and customers to others in their network would be a mistake allowing others to bypass them on projects and form leveraging networks that do not include them. This is a shortsighted view of what social media networking can do. Introducing you customers and clients to others in your field and theirs will first establish you as an important networker, authority and connector in that field, and second, leverage new opportunities not seen before with new partners, clients and customers potentially benefiting everyone in the network.

4. Educate. Teach your customers, clients and suppliers what to expect and where your industry is heading. This will give you an opportunity to introduce new products and services that are available to your customers, clients and community but also to explain the benefits of these new products and services within the larger framework of your niche and industry. As a result, educating your community puts you in the position of helping your clients and customers prepare for trends while making them aware of the tools and services you offer to assist them with future challenges.

5. Take an interest. Knowing your niche, your industry and the products and services you offer is one thing, but knowing something about your customer or client and their needs is also imperative. Of course, your success depends on their success so use your social media channels to explore the niches and markets important to your them. It will show that you understand their business and help you gain insight into their market and how it is changing.

6. Empower. Providing your customers and clients with new information in their field or niche can open new opportunities and new vistas into which they and you can expand. Growth for your customers and clients means growth for your business as well, so focus on sharing information that uncovers new ideas, products, services and new markets, not just the same old tips for the same old markets your clients already dominate.

7. Spend some time listening. Social media is a telephone not just a microphone. By building connections not only with your customers and clients but with others in their niche or industry, you can monitor what’s important to those you serve sharing innovations and trends and pointing out new directions for their business that will in turn strengthen your authority in their niche or market and brand you as an expert, eventually drawing more business from existing clients and customers and others in similar industries.

8. Give a little more. Social media content is a great way of giving more to existing and prospective clients while eventually attracting more business from both and from others following you. Social media is one of the best ways to give more to your existing customers while at the same time branding and marketing your business. Using the tools of social media will allow you to streamline and combine your marketing and customer service efforts and boost your visibility all at once with others in your industry.

9. Strategize for the future. Using social media to follow trends in your own industry or niche and those of your clients will also help you and them forecast the future. Almost like mini-consulting sessions, social media allows you to share information on new directions and new ideas and share those ideas with clients and followers in a way that allows them to be assimilated and acted upon in the future forming a road map for future growth while establishing yourself as a thought leader.

10. Add a little magic. Links to special features and posts, video content, your own original blog posts, original interviews with industry leaders: all are ways to add some extra magic and an exciting dynamic to your social media channel. Be aware that retaining followers, including existing customers, is the key. Focus on material that will keep your readers coming back again and again and referring your content to others.

Are you using social media to set a banquet for your loyal customers? How are you using social media channels to feed your customers and yet keep them hungry for more?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Google Heavily Penalizes Websites

Three days ago Google launched and update that may radically affect the amount of search engine traffic your blog or website gets. They're calling it a minor update to their algorithm, but it has already had a major effect on some sites. 8 Days ago I mentioned on Hacker News that a site that was scraping the popular StackOverflow was ranking higher than them - by republishing their content. Well Google has updated their algorithm and the scraper site's traffic immediately plummeted by about 90%. The day-over-day drop is 40%. I'm not a fan of sites that steal content, but ouch!!

Here is Matt Cutts, head of Google's anti-spam team making the announcement a few days ago.

From industry buzz it seems that Google is going after two kinds of sites this year. The first is sites that scrape content from others and republish that content unmodified (scraper sites). The second is sites who have low quality content farms, where large numbers of low wage humans generate low quality content purely to try and attract search engine traffic. We've now seen hard evidence of the new anti-scraper policy but not much evidence of Google going after content farms.

If you run a blog or content site that relies on SEO traffic, here is how you need to react to this:
  1. Make sure you limit the amount of republished content.
  2. If you do republish content, make sure there is at least the same amount of original content on the same page to balance it out.
  3. Beware publishing large amounts of low quality content. We haven't seen any evidence of penalties in this area yet, but trust me they're coming.
I'm also modifying my back-link strategy slightly:

Google has always had a duplicate content penalty but over the last few years scrapers have gotten good at getting around that by mixing and matching content and adding just enough of their own to have it appear unique to a machine. Now Google have made a few additional changes to their search algorithm to penalize scraper sites. The question is, what changes did they make?

My guess is that one of the things they are looking at is the number of "deep links" you have from other websites linking to content deep in your own site. Sites that scrape content tend to have many links from high ranking sites to their home page but few links to content deep in the site because people just don't find the content valuable enough.

So one of the ways I'm reacting to this algorithm change is to make sure that it's not just our home page that is linked to, but pages deep within the site too.

Expect to see a few more changes from Google like this as the year progresses. Remember, the most important thing is to have unique and useful content and to let the right websites know about it.

Lastly, Google just launched a service that you'll hear about in the news tomorrow to help Egyptians stay in touch with the rest of the world as the government there removes Internet and Cellphone access. It's called Speak2Tweet and it's a collaboration between Twitter and Google. Here's the quote from Google's Blog in case you don't have web access and are in Egypt:

"It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to"

There are already some incredible messages being posted by Egyptians including this one referring to the million person march planned for tomorrow.

On a personal note, having lived through the transition of South Africa to a democracy, I'd like to wish any Egyptians who are Weekly Feed subscribers or Feedjit members a safe and influential week!

Best regards,

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO