Getting Down to Business with Constant Contact, Social Media, and Daniel Nuccio
May 31, 2011

Last month I had the opportunity to attend Constant Contact’s “Get Down to Business” seminar in Chicago.  Not only was I able to meet with a variety of people working in social media, or at least implementing it for their businesses, as well as see presentations from several top people in the industry, but I was also able to attend a special lunch with Steve Robinson, Gail Goodman, and a small handful of respected guests and loyal Constant Contact customers.

Now, trying to sum up a morning-long seminar with about half a dozen speakers, followed by an hour and a half lunch in only four to eight hundred words would be a bit of a challenge, and I know I surely would have to leave a number of things out. Therefore I will just present some highlights, and interesting pieces of information I learned, or had reiterated to me, that I believe may be beneficial to those I share them with. Some are deserving of full length blog posts, which, if you are one of our loyal readers, you may see in the future, while others are just small golden nuggets.

Everyone’s doing it…or at least soon will be. The numbers show that more than 160 million people are tweeting while 500 million people actively use Facebook. And, according to Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard, in the near future, more small businesses will have a Facebook page than a website. Similar numbers Howard presented at the seminar indicated that in 2005 marketing efforts typically consisted of TV commercials, emails, phone calls, and face to face contact, whereas today, many of those older forms of marketing are being overshadowed tweets, check-ins, and Facebook status updates

Get involved where your clients, prospects, and potential customers are involved.  If you do not know where they are involved, ask. There is no point in using LinkedIn if everyone you either have or want to have a business relationship with is on Twitter, and vice versa.

Social bookmarking sites are dead…or at least soon will be. The only people who still use them are diehard social bookmarking site users. Unless you know your clients or prospects are diehard social bookmarking site users, don’t waste your time on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or the others.

When you do get involved, be a concierge, not a salesman. There is a commonly used analogy in social media circles that going on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media site is like going to a cocktail party. When you arrive, you do not go to a bunch of random people saying “My name is Mr. X.  I sell Y. This is why Y is so great. Would you like to buy Y?” Instead, you mingle with people. You join the conversations already going on. Many of these conversations may have nothing to do with business. But, while you are mingling with people, you are building a certain level of rapport with them, and, when they need Y, or know someone who needs why, they will be more likely to think of you.

Social Media is not a quick fix! If your business is failing or has a bad business plan or has an ill developed sales process, social media probably can’t save you. Implementing social media takes time. Again, it is about relationship building, not selling!

People trust third party recommendations more than they trust you! There is a lot to be said for the idea of social proof. But, put simply, when you say good things about you, you come off as a salesman who will say what he has to make a sale. When others say good things about you, such as those you have been building rapport with through your social media tools over a period of time, they come off as satisfied customers, and are seen as more trustworthy, or at least less biased.

People are terrible at measuring the indirect effects of social media…probably partly because doing so can be difficult…if not near impossible. I am aware of how this sounds…It sounds like an easy out for any social media consultant not doing their job properly or investor in a bad social media tool trying to convince others things aren’t so bad, and unfortunately the above can be used this way. But, at the same time, simply taking a look at whether your business is doing better now compared to before you implemented a social media program may not necessarily give a clear answer given the myriad of factors that can influence success or failure. Now, I suppose an experiment or quasi-experiment can be done, things like the number of retweets you get or the level of activity on a Facebook page can be measured, and new clients/customers, can be asked or surveyed about how they found you, but, at the end of the day, activity on a social media page is not always converted into new business and even when asked, your new client/customer may not be able to tell you that they received your contact info after a friend recommended you after checking out your website after seeing a tweet of yours retweeted by a different friend.

There are no social media experts…just people who might know a little more and have a little more experience. Everyone who works in social media knows this. Anyone who says differently is likely doing so either due to ignorance or deceit. Now, again, this is not to say that there are not people who know more or have more experience, and if you are hiring someone to help you with social media you should be able to reasonably expect (or demand) that they have a certain level of familiarity with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, that they know which sites are being phased out, and that they know how to use some of the more prominent social media management tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, but, that said, there are changes being made to all the major social media sites quite frequently, and new social media sites, management tools, and other various instruments to make any number of social media related tasks easier are being developed everyday, and even people like Steve Robinson, Gail Goodman, and Justyn Howard, among countless others, will admit that there is always more to learn.

WordPress vs. Hootsuite: When the Stats Disagree
February 3, 2010

One of the first things Rich, Randolph Sterling’s founder and CEO, asked me when I was hired as the company’s social media intern last summer was whether there was a way for us to track our success. In other words, did he spend his flight from Chicago to Raleigh or Raleigh to Chicago writing a blog post that might as well have been scribbled on the back of a napkin and thrown out when he landed, or did he do something constructive with his time that others would appreciate and find helpful, something that might even lead them to consider paying for greater access to his expertise.

The answer I had back in July was that I did not know of a way to count how many people clicked on one of our tiny urls through Twitter, but I could still keep track of how popular our WordPress blogs were. And, at that time, that was fine. Then I found HootSuite, a Twitter management tool that allowed me to not only schedule tweets, but know how many people clicked on a given link. It was a dream come true.  Then, when HootSuite added a feature that allowed me to simultaneously schedule tweets and Facebook status updates, the dream only got better.

However, something I barely realized at first was that the numbers I was getting from HootSuite for clicks on links to our WordPress blogs were inconsistent with the numbers I was getting from WordPress for the number of views on a given day or for a given post. Initially I dismissed this thinking that maybe there was a minor bug or that HootSuite had counted my own clicks while WordPress did not. But then the discrepancies became more pronounced. I’d log into the HootSuite account and get excited when I saw we had fifty clicks on two or three of our blog posts in less than a day, and joyfully head over to our WordPress account, only to be crushed when I found out that, according to WordPress, we had significantly fewer visitors than what HootSuite had led me to believe. This troubled me for awhile, not only because I knew that Rich logged into our WordPress account on occasion while never going near the more generous HootSuite account, but because to me this was a real problem. In my mind one of the statistical tools I had come to rely on was being dishonest, but which one, and, more importantly, why?

As I would later find out, neither one was being dishonest per se. What was happening was that for one reason or another WordPress does not register clicks from HootSuite, which meant that the numbers from HootSuite were accurate, as were the ones from WordPress, and basic addition could give me our final number in the future (or, as I may be inclined to do, I could continue using HootSuite to schedule Tweets, while using the Shortlink feature to shorten our blog links). And, as it turns out, this is a relatively common problem, and the people at WordPress are working to fix it. But the question remains, what about our Digg, Reddit, and Constant Contact links?