Before the social media tidal wave hit and I was working in ‘Global Brand Integration’ for the Canadian Tourism Commission, some of the traditional ways of reaching an international audience included print advertising, exhibiting in travel shows and visiting overseas offices. As a sales coach now, I’m helping small office and home office entrepreneurs, as well as sales professionals, including social media as part of their sales and marketing strategies.
As people spend more time online, customers have become increasingly unreachable through traditional advertising. Social media networking enables you to communicate directly with your audience online, and for them to communicate with each other through social interaction. James Farley, CMO Ford said “You can’t just say it. You have to get the people to say it to each other.” Twenty-five per cent of Ford’s marketing spend is on digital/social media. They are also the only US auto company that rejected a government bailout.
In Social Media Fundamentals: Part 1 of 2, I said “The social media tidal wave is here. Are you swimming with the current or against it?”. If you’re still swimming against it, remember that traditional advertising will become increasingly ineffective as customers become increasingly unreachable. Do you really want to be the last person selling encyclopedias door-to-door?
YouTube is a video-sharing website created in February 2005 (bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion in November 2006) on which users can upload, share, and view videos. On the third anniversary of the acquisition by Google, they announced that YouTube was serving “well over a billion views a day” worldwide. YouTube has made it possible for anyone with a video camera and an internet connection to post a video to a worldwide audience within minutes. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS and BBC offer some of their material using this platform.
I launched my SohoSalesCoaching Channel on Facebook in September 2008 and use it to upload and share sales-related videos from “Finding Your Niche” to “Handling Objections”. Singapore-based entrepreneur, Adrian Lee launched his Videolane Channel in September 2006 and created a video “How To Draw Spiderman With MS Paint” which has over 1 million views! His online success has helped him transition from professional videographer to training entrepreneurs on YouTube video marketing strategies.
When I’m facilitating sales workshops for entrepreneurs, I encourage them to launch a YouTube Channel and create videos that will appeal to their target audience. Keep each video within 5 minutes duration and offer 5 tips. This will help position entrepreneurs as experts in their fields and increase their exposure.
Meetup.com is an online social networking portal that makes it easy for groups to meet offline in localities around the world. Since its founding in 2001, members have been able to find and join groups unified by a common interest like, hobbies, careers or business. One of the founders, Scot Heiferman said during an interview in June 2009, “The inspiration for Meetup was how to use the internet, to get people off the internet and forming real local community”. At that time, Meetup.com had about 6 million members and 180,000 monthly Meetups in 11,000 cities throughout 100 countries.
I joined Meetup.com in August 2003 and have been a long-time member of The Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup Group. It was founded in October 2002 and has close to 2,500 members. It’s organized by Minna Van at The Network Hub and has proved to be a great way to connect with entrepreneurs in Vancouver. I’m the organizer of the Kuala Lumpur Meetup Group which was founded in September 2007 and has 222 members. Although I’m based in Singapore, Karin Chang (assistant organizer) and I schedule regular Meetups where entrepreneurs can network, build relationships, and promote their businesses in Malaysia.
When I’m coaching entrepreneurs one-on-one, I suggest they join Meetup groups where they can consistently reach a large number of their ideal target customer. They can use the online platform to connect with prospective customers offline and spend more time in face-to-face prospecting situations. Organizing a Meetup group works well when responsibilities are shared with assistant organizers. Be sure to give people a reason to join your Meetup group by providing them with a platform to help them to connect with the right people. This helps position organizers as valuable and trusted resources.
Skype is a multimedia livecasting software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to landlines and mobile phones can be made for a fee. Skype has also become popular for its additional features such as instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing. Since its release in August 2003, the number of users has grown to over 500 million worldwide.
I’ve been using Skype to connect with clients overseas since December 2008 because it’s so convenient and affordable (sometimes free) to coach clients in Asia, Europe and North America. Even local clients now prefer meeting over Skype in order to eliminate the travel time and costs associated with meeting in person. This has changed the way entrepreneurs do business. All they need is an internet connection, a headset and a webcam(optional). It’s has removed all geographical barriers from the business.
When I’m delivering in-house sales training for SMEs and MNCs, I encourage them to use Skype as a tool for connecting with their overseas prospective and current customers. Speaking face-to-face on video helps people feel as though they’re right in front of them without incurring travel costs. Skype may never replace a handshake, but it can help you maintain relationships by spending more time in face-to-face selling situations.
Social Media ROI
The success of social media campaigns should not be measured simply by the number of fans, friends, followers, connections, and views within your campaigns. As entrepreneurs and sales professionals these interactions must contribute to increasing sales. How many qualified leads and referrals are you getting from social media? How many people are purchasing your products as a result of these interactions? What conversations is your audience having about your business? How many interactions have you had with your audience this week? What was the quality of those interactions?
Social media is a new tool that works best when applying the time-tested fundamentals of personal selling. Use it to enhance and complement your offline marketing communication activities. Remember, people will always do business with people they know, like, and trust. Instead of measuring social media ROI only in terms of return-on-investment, consider your return-on-interaction.
- Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.
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