Social networking is on the forefront of every business person’s mind these days. How do I use it? How do I capitalize on it? How do I justify it versus considering it creative loafing for my staffers? You have heard all the buzz about MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may have even heard about Squidoo and the seemingly thousands of other sites that are focused on connecting people to people, people to causes, people to industries, even people to businesses but you may have said, “Yea, well, I have a website. I don’t need all the rest of that stuff!”
OK… I hate to break it to you but here is a reality check. Music no longer comes on records and very few people read newspapers anymore. The same is becoming true of static websites with just a few pages of stuff that you consider interesting about your product and a couple of pictures that haven’t been changed in a year or more. Your website should enable the consumer to interact with you product, learn about food choices, sites you recommend to visit in the area, and why your beds are better for your comfort and posture than your competitor’s. Communicating through video, audio, podcasts, pdf files, ebooks, reports, and social network links is critical to staying viable in today’s world. Think about it this way, what sells you more a still picture of a new car or a test drive in that same vehicle from the dealer? Because people are so busy, experiencing communication overload, and now depending more and more on recommendations from their friends rather than research everything themselves, the rise and domination of mind space goes to social networking activities.
Hold it, let’s stop here for a moment to reinforce what you have known about people is still true. People are still people. They are still quirky. They still have their opinions, even the unfounded ones, that they will defend until death or tomorrow, which ever comes first. You know, if you have been in the hotel or tourism business for any length of time that people are critical, many times impressed by silly little things, and sometimes choose unpredictable outcomes, just because they can. You also thought you knew that people were emotional, buy on emotion, and even though some of them try to appear very analytical, they are really superficial analytical and still connect deeply on an emotional level, even if they will not admit it. You also realize that for your communication message to get across to your targeted consumer you must continue to bombard that consumer with your message over and over until it finally cuts through the clutter and overload in that consumer’s mind. Yes, advertising and marketing is a repetitive, educational game that usually requires a tremendous expenditure to produce even dismal responses. You do all you can but success seems to elude you.
Wait! Could the winning number finally be here? Is this social networking really better than winning the lottery? Is it some kind of hypnotic social mass communication that really connects with people on an individual basis? What about all those people that respond to your brand, your choice, your individual product with loud-mouth whining and complaining online that serves to diminish your brand and drives other potential consumers away from your business or industry? How do we even enter this fray let alone compete and become successful? Should we just not try?
Don’t play and have a zero chance of playing in the big leagues! Begin to play and do something, even if it is wrong, and at least you will be suited up and ready to play in the big leagues after you swing and earn a few strike outs or settle for a base hit rather than a home run. Here is an important thing to remember, even the best of players strike out some times but they tried, suited up, and took a swing at it with the potential of amazing results. Well, keep reading and I will share with you some secrets to producing your early successes and to keep those successes coming long into the future. Ready to learn and earn? Here we go!
First, people are people are people. No matter how unique they say they are, each has several similar emotional buttons that you can push to many times elicit the response you desire. Emotions are the first button. Emotions of warm and inviting bring forth the connection to home as a child, grandma’s home, and loving family memories. Help them recall those happier, less stressful times, and they will connect with you quicker. Earn that connection and they are beginning to trust you. Trust and a call to action can produce sales and income in your bank account.
A fair portion of people respond to ego. Massage their ego with compliments of how smart they are to investigate and make this purchase or to save money for their family’s needs with the inclusion of your product in their lifestyle. Soon you will see their psyche respond by trading some other item of perceived lesser value, their money, for your item(s) of greater value, a night on the town or a leisurely trip to your noted rendezvous destination. The ego compliment can also be addressed to them for another person with a message like she will really love you for respecting her and taking such good care of her for a full, relaxing weekend in the city without the kids. Now they both win and so will you as they favor you with their money. A number of other secret triggers exist within your targeted audience. All of them can produce a significant outpouring of money when enacted correctly with your marketing strategy.
For instance, the lack and loss strategy. Hurry, now before this is completely sold out, it will be gone forever, and you know that if you don’t act now then your future could be without a Valentine on this special day of the year. Those that bet on the stock market and tried to tell you how smart they were are reeling now from the losses, act now or you will join them if you don’t make your move now to invest in 24 karat gold bullion. Your dollar is losing value, global exchanges are considering downgrading the dollar, move to gold now and not only save what value you have now but improve your position as gold heads towards an all-time high.
Now that you have had a short review on triggers and secrets to moving your targeted audience into the buying position for you, your brand, and the specific benefits of your industry, it is time to revisit the social media portion of your marketing plans but first, a short stroll down memory lane. You see, when newspapers entered the market and became the medium of choice, they eclipsed the town criers. When radio entered the market and gained wide acceptance, they eclipsed the newspaper as the standard. The same thing happened with television eclipsing radio. Each time it was a new level of communication, a new method but communication between people never stopped. Oddly enough, newspaper, radio, and television were considered mass media because they forwarded the communication message out to the public but did not establish a return communication loop to verify the receipt of the message and the interaction for questions and other needs to insure desired actions by the consumer. Without this portion of the communication loop, the verification of the message received, marketers could never be truly sure of the receipt of the message and if the targeted audience actually understood what was trying to be communicated to them.
Along came call-out research, Arbitron ratings for radio, Nielsen rating for television, and other communication message verification like focus groups, in-store survey’s, and long-form printed questionnaires being mailed out. All of these only took a scientifically significant sample and extrapolated those numbers to imply the entire survey size group. Still, marketers had to trust statisticians and these bean-counters had to convince clients that all these numbers were really real. This furthered the favored notion that “figures lie and liars figure” as committed to great sayings of history.
Now, enter the computer. This super brain was supposed to help calculate large math problems, drive rocket ships to the moon, and forward standardized accounting practices in businesses around the world. With the gained popularity in business, soon it was realized that computers could do much more including assist with communication issues. Sending messages from one side of the building to the other soon became the select choice of sending one electronic message from one side of the globe to the other. Department talking to department, business talking to business, all the while people talking to people with important business and people talking to people with small talk, chit chat, and friendly interpersonal relationships that grew from one-on-one to group speak environments.
Group speak environments began to realize that they could focus on topics, around certain individuals, or center on a cause. These fan clubs, neighborhoods, and individuals connecting for a variety of reasons soon migrated to newly designed social networking architecture forums and communities. Welcome to Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, along with Yahoo Groups, CompuServe communities, and others. Futurist John Nesbit pointed out in his 1990’s best seller MegaTrends that the more high tech we as humans become the more high touch our internal demands become. Thus, more high tech equates with more high touch.
For a number of years we have experienced and embraced the high tech revolution that gives voice to the individual. Email, chat rooms, groups, all focus on the individual voice being heard – sometimes not very loud, sometimes not very well, but individual nonetheless. Now, fast forward as we couple in more technology advances with critical mass of individuals wanting to voice their thoughts and you have the advent of social networking.
Social networking is today’s electronic evolution of the 1950’s staple of talking to your neighbor over the backyard fence. The individual was still valued, the news or information of the day was shared, and quality value opinions were formed. While it was typically a one-on-one exchange, buying habits could be influenced, brand priorities could be adjusted based on another persons experience, and brand fortunes changed one little communication at a time. Social networking today works much the same as a medium that can influence, change brand priorities based on another persons experience with that brand, and via communication efforts brand fortunes can be changed. The difference is many more people connecting at once via a friends list or opt-in system and brand fortunes can be made or destroyed in a few mere electronic seconds. Brands, including personal brands, raised up or shot down faster than you can read this writing.
Some people have thought that not having a presence online in any form or at least not in the social networking portion of all things electronic will eliminate them from harm. Frankly, think about the last time you were wronged. Just because that person or brand was not around, did it stop you from relating your bad experience to someone else? The same is true of your online and social networking presence, no presence does not equate with no talking about you. In football and many other arenas, the best defense is considered to be a great offense. Social media is the same. Having a presence, interacting with your audience one member at a time, and witnessing a no fear attitude are usually the better offenses. It also gives you a front row seat to any complaints and rebuttals or actions your brand cares to take and, even more importantly, talk about to the others monitoring the situation.
Imagine the hotel that has a guest complain that all the floating equipment for the pool is already taken and in use by other guests. Picture the fast acting manager sending a staffer to the local Walmart to purchase some additional items and returning within minutes to the mother who is trying to satisfy her children at the pool. This mother will tell all her online friends and family of the amazing efforts put forth by the establishment, the manager, and the brand. You will not only have a client for life but an array of multiple benefits soon to be realized from her tweets, posts, and instant messages. Further, the wise manager asks her to record a quick video sharing these sentiments so that the manager can post it on the brands’ YouTube channel, even further extending the reach and influence of her voice. Quite literally, her voiced opinion could be influencing hearts and minds via this emotional selling moment for thousands of potential clients and years to come. Smart, very smart!
Consider the time and workforce oriented to working and maintaining your social media outreach a very valuable investment. Savvy use of the array of opportunities to connect with your target audience one-on-one via that huge communication media channel of the Internet is awaiting you and your brand. Use it to chat. Use it to let your audience know of your special offerings. Use it to survey your guests. Use it to offer off-season specials, business packages, or even a package for a typically slow night or weekend. You could even create your own special day, featured week, or event-centered promotion like Official Gear Head Night where anyone bringing in a spark plug receives a free 20 minute massage to help you relax and get your sparks flying. How about the Home Schooler Special to visit the actual battlefields of Gettysburg and star in an actual reenactment of the battle, a once in a lifetime opportunity that your home schooler has to re-live history!
Imagine your website or brand video channel featuring action-packed videos of tours of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio which includes a teaser of an air show event that will be coming up at the museum on a special date package your organization is preparing. Grab the views of the Grand Canyon that stress in the audio that you really have to be here to experience the full grandeur and majesty of the new overlooks and the trails that lead down into the gorge. Share a mixture of video and still pictures of a cruise to Alaska that features a humpbacked whale inviting your target audience to come along, share the fun, and for anyone that captures a picture of a live humpback whale playing in the water, they will win a $200 discount off their next tour with you and your brand.
Audio’s can also lend to the brand experience you offer as you read a book, provide an audio copy of one of the great writing of Abraham Lincoln that can be listened to over and over including as you tour the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on President’s Day this year. Include a free eBook about how to set up a tent and store your food in the woods to keep wild animals away as you journey with us on a special tour of the scenic Appalachian Trail. Enjoy this retrospective collection of famous restaurants and hotels of the world from the actual visits by our clients as you share the moments, just picture your own journey making its way into our collection to share with our family of clients. Please let us know now where you will be going and when, then we will look forward to having our team review your pictures for the best moments to be included in our Families, Food, and Historic Hotels Collection in Pictures.
Literally, thousands of applications, some even potentially generating additional streams of revenue, can be yours as you plan your marketing and include offers and activities with social media, websites, video’s, audio’s, ebooks, and so much more. Let your creativity explore the possibilities and remember to connect at the heart with your target market for incredible results!