Posted by: Bret Simmons | September 10, 2010

Your customers are all online, why aren’t you?

by Heather Crosby and the team at BrandCraft Inc.

Social media has become a rapidly expanding (not to mention cheap and easy) way for a business to grow its customer base. Geographically, Facebook would be the third largest country in the world, with over 500 million active users. And with over 150 million active mobile Facebook users, we have the ability to share content with them 24/7. And were not just talking to college students anymore.  The highest percentage of social media users fall into the age group of 35-44.

As we transition into a world of online communities and networks, it is now even easier to find your target audience and speak directly to them. Here are seven ways social media can help develop your business in 2010:

Niche marketing: Finding and targeting the specific audience you are looking for based on their specific interests is easier than ever.  Joining and following groups links you to wealth of users who all share similar interests.

One-to-one customer interaction: This is the easiest way to speak directly to a strategically selected consumer. In mass media, you are talking at a wide audience, with social media you can actually talk to a more specific, interested group.

Visibility: The more connections you make, the easier it will be for others to find you. Use your friends to find new friends. The more you interact with others, the more others will want to interact with you.

Brand recognition: The more your brand is seen, the more people will remember it. Don’t forget to communicate exactly the way you want to portray your brand. A survey by Razorfish showed that this year alone, 40% of Facebook users “friended” brands, while 25% followed brands on Twitter. Of both groups, the most common reason was for exclusive deals or offers.

Brand monitoring: See exactly what others are saying about you. This can increase your customer service as well. Even though you may not be involved in the conversation, users may be discussing or complaining about your product online. This is a great way to immediately fix any problems they may have and show you truly do care about the consumer.

Increase search engine rankings: A social media presence often ranks highly with certain search engines. Be sure to integrate keyword-rich pages and profiles.

Branding yourself as an expert: Interacting with other people and groups online makes your brand appear savvy, and also increases visibility.

Digital couponing: Position your coupons on numerous online platforms. Users can select and print coupons while they are looking at a friend’s Facebook page or checking the weather. Coupons can even be loaded onto store rewards cards with the click of a button. A recent Knowledge Networks study shows that more than a quarter of all customers who use coupons are exclusively using digital coupons.

Transparency: If customers can watch what you do online, they maybe more apt to trust you.

Social networking sites may be easy to set up, but they can take time to properly position your brand and expand your audience. Don’t know where to begin? Attend a social media conference – like SM@RT 2010!

Posted by: Christine Adams | September 9, 2010

Introducing SM@RT 2010 Presenter, Jodi Gersh

We are very proud to introduce Jodi Gersh as one of our incredible speakers at SM@RT 2010. Jodi has worked for the media and information company Gannett for over 10 years. Her current role is assisting Gannett’s 80+ newspapers and 20+ television stations in navigating the social media waters. Jodi consults on best practices for creating compelling social community engagement. She is currently working on ways that traditional journalism can intersect with location based social networking.

Don’t miss Jodi Gersh this December at SM@RT 2010! Register NOW and receive a pre-conference webinar by our keynote speaker, David Nour as part of your early registration.

Posted by: Christine Adams | September 7, 2010

Introducing SM@RT 2010 Presenter, Deanna Zandt

We are very happy to introduce Deanna Zandt as one of our dynamic presenters at SM@RT 2010. Deanna is a consultant and media technologist who has spoken at numerous conferences. You can view her bio by clicking here. Deanna recently released a new book called Share This! How You Will Change the World Through Social Networking.

Don’t miss Deanna Zandt this December at SM@RT 2010! Register NOW and receive a pre-conference webinar by our keynote speaker, David Nour as part of your early registration.

Posted by: Bret Simmons | September 1, 2010

Scott Armstrong, CEO of Dibbs

We have hosted a series of 5 social media events this year that were free and open to the public. Our final event before SM@RT 2010 is Thursday, September 16, 2010 from 6-7:30 pm in the Knowledge Center on the UNR Campus. Our speaker will be Scott Armstrong, the CEO of Dibbs. Scott has assembled an amazing team of talented folks to help him launch this very unique iphone application. He will be speaking not only about his new application, but also about being an entrepreneur. His talk is part of NCET eWeek and The University of Nevada College of Business B-week.

Park in the Whelan parking garage at 15th and Virginia and walk across the street (east) to the Knowledge Center, which is south of the new Student Union. Go downstairs to find the Wells Fargo Auditorium. The event will start promptly at 6 pm.

If you have any questions, please call Bret Simmons at (775) 682-9163. Leave a detailed message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Don’t miss Scott Armstrong!

Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 27, 2010

Three Steps To Personal Branding: Guest Post By Nikolas Allen

Nikolas Allen made this video especially for SM@RT 2010 in response to a post at the Student Branding Blog entitled “Do You Have A Personal Branding Success Story?” Nikolas contacted me and I loved his story, but since he was not really a student I invited him to tell his story here.  In this video, which I strongly encourage you to watch, Nikolas briefly describes how he used a three step process to get a job with personal branding:

1. Know your brand

2. Get online and use social media tools to share your brand in a consistent manner with the world

3. Get offline and live your brand in your community

“Know what you want your brand to be” is the most important advice Nikolas has to offer. When you watch the video, you can see Nikolas has done a great job of defining and communicating his brand. Nikolas brand is “a bold, fun, edgy pop-artist with passion for branding and marketing and a desire to share my expertise with others.”  I think you will see that he has nailed it.

I LOVE his message that your blog is the single most powerful tool you have to communicate your brand. As he says, and I concur, the blog is “home-base.”

“Protect the integrity of your brand and live as if people are watching, because online they are,” is the excellent advice Nikolas gives about how to operate on your personal account on Facebook, and once again I strongly concur. With your professional or business page on Facebook, make sure it is on message for your brand and offers people real value.

On Twitter, provide value to your followers by sharing content that is consistent with your brand and helpful.  With Youtube, once again, develop content that can help people succeed with their own lives or businesses.

That’s all online, but offline is also important. Do not neglect “living your brand” and connecting with people in person.

Nikolas’ brand helped him land a job as the marketing director at Liberty Arts Gallery in Yreka, CA.  Congratulations, Nikolas!

And thank you very much for this awesome video, Nikolas. Your brand rocks!

Related Posts:

Consistency And Transparency

Three Tips For Beginning Bloggers

Personal Branding: Document And Target YourValue

Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 26, 2010

Social Media Panel Discussion: Part 1

On May 13, 2010, The UNR College of Business, Nevada Small Business Development Center, and UNR Extended Studies co-sponsored a social media panel discussion. The purpose of this panel discussion was to highlight real business people from Reno that are using social media tools and techniques to grow their business. The panel members were Alice Heiman, Ron Bell, Kristy Crabtree, and Larry Rickman. The event was moderated by Dr. Bret Simmons, one of the co-organizers of SM@RT 2010.

Thanks to Carl Thyman and Ron Bell, we have video of the event! In this first video, all panel members answer the question “What’s your best advice for using social media to enhance your business?” This panel of real business owners has some great advice!

Thanks, Alice, Ron, Kristy, Larry, Carl and our co-sponsors for the event, Kathy Carrico (NSBDC) and Jim McClenahan (UNR Extended Studies).

In future posts, I’ll share more videos from this presentation.

Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 22, 2010

Introducing SM@RT 2010 Presenter, Mike Sloan of Vail Resorts

We are very pleased that Mike Sloan of Vail Resorts will be part of our great team of SM@RT 2010 presenters.  You can check out Mike’s bio by clicking here. Mike will be part of a very impressive tourism/gaming tract we have planned for the conference.

One of the properties managed by Vail Resorts is Heavenly at Lake Tahoe.  While here in Reno for SM@RT 2010, you can visit Heavenly and all the other great sites on Lake Tahoe – it’s only an hour’s drive from the conference hotel.

Don’t miss Mike Sloan this December at SM@RT 2010! Register NOW and get a webinar by our keynote speaker David Nour as part of your early registration.

Related Posts:

Introducing Scott Klososky, SM@RT 2010 Keynote Speaker

Introducing SM@RT 2010 Presenter, Mike Volpe Of Hubspot

Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 15, 2010

Introducing SM@RT 2010 Presenter, Mike Volpe Of Hubspot

We are very excited that Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing at Hubspot, will be a featured presenter at SM@RT 2010. Hubspot is one of the leading providers of inbound marketing solutions for companies. Mike will give an all-conference presentation on Friday, December 10, 2010. Mike will also participate in a break-out session presentation that afternoon with one of Hubspot’s customers, Windspire from Reno, NV.  Mike is going to add tremendous value to our conference and we really appreciate the fact that he is coming.

You can learn more about Mike and his thoughts on inbound marketing by visiting his blog. Mike’s company, Hubspot, runs what I think is the best blog on inbound marketing. And of course, the founders of Hubspot wrote a book on inbound marketing that is in my opinion one of the best resources available on using social media to grow your business.

If you have not registered yet for SM@RT 2010, what are you waiting for?! Early registration is available right now, and with early registration you get a preconference webinar with one of our keynote speakers, David Nour.

Don’t miss Mike Volpe at SM@RT 2010, December 8-10, 2010, in beautiful Reno-Tahoe!

Related Posts:

Inbound Marketing: How To Pick A PR Agency

The Digital Passport

Inbound Mediocrity

Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 13, 2010

Introducing Scott Klososky, SM@RT 2010 Keynote Speaker

Scott Klososky is our other keynote speaker for SM@RT 2010. We discovered Scott via a personal recommendation from Reno resident and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, Howard Putnam.

Scott has a reputation for being a dynamic and engaging speaker. He made this list by The Speakers Group of 10 social media speakers to know.

Scott is a former CEO of three successful startup companies who specializes in looking over the horizon with how technology is changing the world. Scott’s vision and ability to see trends in emerging technologies allow him to be a thought leader who applies his skills to help organizations thrive, leaders prosper, and entire industries move forward. His love of being a technology entrepreneur assures that he continually works in the trenches of building his own companies.

Scott has a new book forthcoming called “The Velocity Manifesto: Harnessing Technology, Vision, and Culture to Future Proof Your Organization.” Here is a quote about the book from Scott’s website:
“Leaders today are going to be forced to make a choice – either they will improve with technology vision and culture or they will not survive”

Scott is also working on two other new books, “Enterprise Social Technology: Helping Organizations Harness the Power of Social Media, Social Networking, and Social Relevancy,” and “Managing With Social Technology.”

Scott’s message will help you as a business owner better understand how to leverage the power of social technologies to improve your business. Don’t miss Scott Klososky at SM@RT 2010.

Early registration is open NOW, so what are you waiting for?

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Introducing David Nour, SM@RT 2010 Keynote Speaker

It’s Just Good Business

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Posted by: Bret Simmons | August 12, 2010

Enhancing Your Online Return on Influence™

by David Nour, author – Relationship Economics

If 2009 was about this shiny, sexy new toy called social networking, 2010 and beyond has to be about ROI from your online efforts.  Social media in many ways is reinventing ROI to return on influence, impact and integration.

Whether you use social media to strengthen your brand, drive marketing efficiency, or increase sales, here are six (6) best practices to enhance your online return on influence – see the sidebar section for tactical suggestions.

1. Build a Relevant Relationship Bank™. If you have ever heard me speak, or have had a chance to read Relationship Economics, I describe your portfolio of relationships as your Relationship Bank.  How relevant is your relationship bank to your social media strategy?  The three fundamental attributes in your relationship bank are its’ quality, diversity, and the investment efforts you choose to make.  It is seldom about the number of people you are connected to, but rather the number of interested people in your niche that you develop a relationship with.

2. Toot Your Own Horn.  A mentor often reminds me that “if you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music.”  You must publicize your social media presence, consistently.  Create social links on your website.  Add social links to your email signature, or include them on your business card.  Include social networking profile links along with your forum signature.  Don’t forget to add a professional headshot where appropriate.

3. Become an Object of Interest. Most people will make up their mind to connect with you – or not – in seven to ten seconds, based on your picture (face it, we are all shallow), robust profile, and the most recent one to three status updates.  Keep in mind that people online are browsers, not readers.  It is critical that you keep your status updates poignant, pithy, and of particular interest or value to your target audience.  Ideal if you stick to what you know and can intelligently articulate.  Post updates for the benefit of the consumers of that information, not yourself as the producer of it.

4. Know Your Social Media “Why”. Your off-line and on-line presence must be in-line.  You must understand succinctly why you have a social media presence and how to most effectively utilize it as a platform.   To enhance your online return on influence, it is critical that you develop an online purpose – with both a defensive strategy (to protect your brand), as well as an offensive roadmap (to take your message to the market).

5. Invest With Unique Insights. Some say ROI from social media is a myth.  Let me remind you of the three types of relationship builders; on – or off-line; givers who freely give, takers, who use social media as a personal billboard or a solicitation engine, and investors.  Digital relationship investors understand that the fundamental value in any social forum is the exchange of unique insights.  Although we may never completely agree on a particular topic or process, a healthy dose of dissent fuels the participants’ intellectual horsepower.

6. Who Are You Listening To? Candidly, my first two weeks on Twitter were a complete waste of time.  I saw little value in the mundane exchange of useless information.  Then I quickly learned that Twitter ROI – for me – is heavily derived from following respected colleagues, industry thought leaders, and generally appealing personalities; those who shared insights I otherwise wouldn’t have regular access to.  Particularly if you rely on social media to source industry influencers, it is critical to ask yourself, who are you really listening to?  After all, we are the product of the advice we take.

What other best practices have you found of particular value?

Related Posts:

Introducing David Nour, SM@RT 2010 Keynote Speaker

It’s Just Good Business

The Importance Of Relevance And Relationships

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