Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Social Proof is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of any social media marketing campaign.  What is social proof, you ask?  A term coined by social psychologist, Robert Cialdini (in his work, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion), social proof stems from the psychology of compliance.  Essentially, people tend to do what they see other people doing.  It’s basically the concept that, ‘If everyone else is doing it, then I should be doing it, too.’  It’s all about conformity.  If you’re walking down the street and come upon a crowd of people looking up at the sky, your automatic reaction will be to look up at the sky as well.    

Cialdini delves into what “psychological principles influence the tendency to comply with a request”.  He terms these principles “weapons of influence”.  Social proof is a weapon of influence.  And, this is where “compliance professionals” come into play.  Compliance professionals are “those whose business it is to persuade us”. 

Can it not be said, therefore, that you, as a business professional, using social media as a means of marketing your brand, are, in effect, a compliance professional?  Your main objective is to influence people to use your services – you want to promote your brand – get it out there so as many people as possible are aware of what you can do for them.  You use social media as a means of doing so, and social media relies upon social proof as its very foundation.

How important, then, do you think it is to be as interactive with others as possible on each of your social networking platforms?  If the key is to drive as much attention as you can to your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your LinkedIn profile and your Blog, then it’s essential that you focus on the ways that each of these sites allows you to amp up the social proof factor.

Case in point: Facebook.  If you don’t already have one, it’s high time that you create a Facebook Fan page for your business.  Facebook makes it very easy for you to use your Fan page as social proof through the use of widgets.  Facebook provides you with numerous social widgets that you can install right on your website, and these widgets can be very useful in terms of letting you know, for example, how many people “Like” your site, or how many people have shared your content on Facebook recently.  And, it gets better!  Facebook ingeniously tailors the widgets specifically to the people who are visiting your web page.  Bottom line:  the social proof that the widgets provide makes it much more likely that people will stay on the site longer or perhaps even subscribe to and/or “Like” it.
Twitter can also be used in terms of social proof.  It has the capability to display follower counts & activity feeds, as well as the number of times content is retweeted.

With respect to your blog posts, ensure that you include a comments section so that anyone who wants to, can post.  The more comments your blog posts garner, the more influential you become – you become an expert in your industry and before you know it, everyone is looking to your blogs for advice – they develop a sense of trust in you.  Setting up a comments section on Blogger is easy – simply click on the “Comments” tab, then select “Show” and click “Save Settings”.  When the comments are enabled, more settings will appear:  Who can comment – “Only Registered Users”; “Anyone” or “Only Members of this Blog” – the choice is yours, however, bear in mind that you want as much traffic as possible here.  Choose all of your settings accordingly.

On your LinkedIn profile, you can easily add a Polls application so that you simply ask a question and LinkedIn will distribute it to your connections and virtually millions of other professionals who are on LinkedIn.  And, you can even share your Poll via the Facebook and Twitter integrations, or even embed the voting module on your website or blog.

Remember, social proof is imperative to any social media marketing campaign.  As Copyblogger’s Brian Clark puts it:   “… given the way social proof drives social media, the way you frame your initial message is critical. You want the momentum of social proof aligned with where you want to go, not with where things are.”  

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


It’s already been established that Twitter is where a vast number of your clients and prospects are and that you should be active on Twitter to engage and network with them.  And, just to encapsulate:  Twitter is a very powerful tool for conversation and broadcasting.  It’s crucial for you, as a business professional, to follow and be followed by industry leaders, clients, prospects and local people in your market area.  Here are some tips for healthy tweeting and a fully optimized Twitter account:                
Fill in as much detail as you can.  This is important especially when sending out follow requests.  Some users will not even respond to a follow request unless they can learn something about who is requesting.  Similarly, people who don’t know you might not want to follow you unless they have some information about you.  A detailed bio helps to let people gain trust in you and will definitely help you to garner more followers.
Although Twitter is a great way to share company news and information, followers will also want to see you tweeting about other things.  You don’t want to bore people to death with your tweets.  Throw in some industry news (links to stories, blogs, etc.) as well as some fascinating market insights.  Ask questions, provoke conversations – be interesting.  And, every now and again a humorous one-liner wouldn’t hurt either.
Ensure that you include your @name (your Twitter handle) on your business cards, your email signature, your blog and your website contact info. 
Whatever you do, do not repeat the same tweet over and over again.  Although more people will see the tweet, you will no doubt lose followers who don’t want to see the same message multiple times.  If something is worth repeating, at least wait a couple of days and try to re-word it a bit (see how adept you are with the 140-character thing!) and maybe let your followers know what a valuable piece of information that particular tweet contains.
5.  DON’T BE AFRAID TO RETWEET                  
Retweeting posts that are of interest to you will increase your visibility on Twitter.   People following those that you retweet will view you as someone who shares common interests.  Ensure that you include the @name when you refer to other users, as this will develop relationships.  And, other users who monitor themselves will be sure to notice your retweet!
It’s important that you participate in the conversation.  Find your business community on Twitter.  Who are the leaders?  What content is being shared?  Check out what other industry professionals are tweeting.  Being an active part of your industry on Twitter will help you connect to a relevant audience.  Involving yourself in business-related discussions will further serve to draw attention to your industry expertise.
Know what your audience is talking about – what kind of questions they’re asking and what information they’re sourcing.  By providing tweets of substance, you will attract quality followers.  Ensure that you respond promptly to questions in order to build or maintain your status as a valuable resource.
Hashtags allow people to easily find conversations / topics on Twitter.  If you want your Twitter topics found (and of course you do), simply place a hashtag before relevant key words in your tweets – e.g. #Palace for #sale in #Timbuktu
It really is a fun way to share info and to network.  It doesn’t take too much time and you can learn so much by just following others.  Not to mention, it’s a valuable way to promote your business.  Try it, you’ll like it!  And, have some fun with it.

Friday, 10 August 2012

6 Golden Rules to Keep In Mind When Blogging for Business

A business blog is a tool that more and more progressive companies are using as a part of their social media campaign strategies and branding tactics.  A business blog represents your company – it’s the voice of your business.  It’s essential that the tone of your blog therefore always be in keeping with your business’ overall brand message and that the content of each post be engaging and relevant to your company’s philosophies – not to mention its products and services.  There are a few important rules to keep in mind when blogging for business that will allow your blog to help, rather than hinder, your business’ online presence.  

1. Always Use Fresh, Engaging and Informative Content –  This is important because if you’re going to spend time writing blog posts on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis, the main idea is to attract readers and enhance your business’ reputation.  In order to do so, you have to be creative.  You have to capture people’s attention and make them want to come back to read your next post.  How do you do this?  Blog about what you know your readers will be interested in.  Think about what questions are most frequently asked about your business or your industry and answer them in blog posts.  Scour the daily online newspapers, find current articles and news that pertain to your business or industry and blog about them.  Stay current and keep your content fresh!

2. Keep Content PC and Business Oriented – Remember, there’s a substantial difference between blogging about one’s personal life, hobbies or pets, etc. and blogging for business.  In keeping with point number one above, it’s important to bear in mind that the target audience for your blog should be clients and prospective clients – people with whom you want to engage from a business perspective.  You want your audience to learn more about your business and what you can do for them.  You therefore want to keep your posts, at least for the most part, business oriented and relevant.  And, try to refrain from including anything that could be considered politically incorrect in today’s society within your posts.  People can be easily offended or put off and the last thing you want to do is alienate anyone!

3. Be Careful With What You Post – You’ve heard it before: Once you post something online, it’s out there and it’s potentially there to stay.  Sure, you can edit and delete your posts, but once you’ve hit the ‘publish’ button, always assume that someone, somewhere will potentially see what you’ve posted.  That being said, it’s imperative to ensure, before you hit the ‘publish’ button, that your post content is exactly what you want it to be.  Before publishing, proof read your material and proof read it again – for content discrepancies, typos and just to ensure that the words are exactly the words you want representing your business.

4. Never Blog About Company Strife – This one is pretty much a no-brainer, especially if you’re the business owner; however, if you’re an employee or an owner who delegates the blogging to someone else, it’s imperative to remember that company grievances are never appropriate content for blog posts.  In fact, it’s not rocket science to realize that blogging about such issues would be counter-productive!

5. Never Publish Clients’ Names or Specifics without Express Consent – Again, this one goes without saying, unless you want to be slapped with a lawsuit!   If you want to blog about specific examples pertaining to your services and do want to use someone’s name or details specific to them, always ensure that you obtain written consent first.

6. Be Inclusive with Your Audience – Within most blogging platforms, you are able to allow comments.  Do it!  What better way is there to learn about the wants and needs of your clients than to hear about them straight from the horse’s mouth. People’s comments are a valuable source of information and ideas for you and your business.  Take advantage of that.  But, keep in mind that it’s crucial to respond to comments and to do so promptly.  No one likes to be ignored and it’s not good business practice to ignore what people are saying to you.  Respond to complimentary comments with a polite “Thank you”.  Respond to negative comments with respect and diplomacy.  And, respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.