Connect with “Experts”

Ever thought you could be involved in a conversation with Ashton Kutcher, Jon Stewart, or Miley Cyrus? What about some of your industry’s rock stars? Well, you can, through social media. Tools like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to connect with the stars and the experts on a person-to-person level. Here’s how:

  1. Get on their radar. Read their blog. See what they’re writing about. Retweet their tweets, comment on their Facebook page, and link to their content. The goal is not to become a stalker, but to let them know you’re out there, and you’re more than just a fanboy or fangirl. (If you feel a little stalker-ish, remember that they’re posting their content in a public forum, for public consumption.
  2. Add value. Leave insightful blog comments that expand on the topic. Write your own blog post and link back to theirs. Create a video response. Let them know about your experiences and results using the methods or techniques they’ve taught.  Continue reading Connect with “Experts”

Execute a Survey or Poll

In an earlier article in this series, we covered using your social media networks to get informal opinions from your followers and friends. Now, let’s cover how to solicit more structured input. There are a number of ways to create and post “official” polls or surveys, none of which involve getting a paper survey printed, and sending it out via snail mail to your followers. Here are some options that are much faster and less expensive:

  • Google Docs. Create a simple survey in Google Docs (docs.google.com) and get your results in spreadsheet format – for free! You can even brand the survey with your own colors and logo.
  • Survey Monkey. If you want to email out your survey, check with Survey Monkey at http://surveymonkey.com. You can create surveys quickly and easily, and aggregate answers from up to 100 respondents for free. Get more surveys and more answers for a small monthly fee.
  • Facebook Polls. Facebook makes it really easy to add polls or surveys to your Facebook profile or page. Just go to http://facebook.com/survey to be walked through the free process.
  • WordPress Widgets. There are a number of WordPress widgets and plug-ins that can be added easily to your WordPress blog or website. Check out WP-Polls, Poll Code, Snap Poll, and Vizu.

Continue reading Execute a Survey or Poll

Cut Through Customer Support

Make a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Uncle Bob the roadkill taxidermist attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Bob to pull out the photos of the lifelike armadillos. Let’s face it; these days, customer support can be a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.

Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:

  • Tweet first. There are a number of major companies, including Zappos.com and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas? Continue reading Cut Through Customer Support

Share Important Announcements

You’re changing the name of your podcast. You just gave birth to a baby girl. You’re heading to Los Angeles for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help spread the word far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves.

1. Don’t be afraid to post it more than once. Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.  Continue reading Share Important Announcements

Take a Quick Break

Whether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore?  Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks: Continue reading Take a Quick Break

Find Resources

If you’re in search of a great graphic designer, you may want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter, do not pass go. Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business may be as easy as asking the hundreds of folks in your social media network who they recommend. Here’s a breakdown of ways to find trusted contractors, by social media outlet:

  1. Google Plus Local. With the recent merging of Google Plus and Google Maps you can now find nearly any type of service imaginable, along with critical contact information and most importantly – online reviews.  Depending on your settings, you’ll find “personalized results” which will give more “weight” to reviews from friends in your “circles”.
  2. LinkedIn. One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can use this feature to find a great copywriter, and read what others have to say about him or her. Think of it as a Yelp for people. Continue reading Find Resources

See What People Are Talking About

Large corporations spend millions of dollars, prowling the streets, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. In a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback, quickly and easily, using your social media networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot, right now:

Twitter Trends. Go to http://search.twitter.com/ and right below the search box, you’ll see a list of trending topics (as of this writing, the trending topics include #ImSickOf, #YammouniFollow, Windows Live Messenger, Happy Election Day, and TVA ). If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep constantly updated on a trending topic.  Continue reading See What People Are Talking About

Get Fast Feedback

Everything online happens at the speed of light. Decisions that used to take weeks or months to make are now a matter of mere minutes or seconds. There is no time for a group consensus or “sleeping on it.” But with your social media network, you can still get input from a number of people, quickly. There are literally millions of people on-hand, ready and able to give you feedback in the moment.

For instance, want to know if the font on your homepage is too small? Send a tweet with the page link and ask what the general public thinks. Wondering which header graphic better conveys your business? Post them both on your Facebook page and ask for input. Continue reading Get Fast Feedback

Get Answers to Your Burning Questions

It used to be that all the answers to your questions could be found in online article directories. Then, when they became overrun with junk and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too arcane, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions: Continue reading Get Answers to Your Burning Questions