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The Monthly Resource Guide For Startup Businesses

December 2009

Exercise
Your Social
Media Muscle
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the other social
media only work if you exercise with them regularly.
These four social media experts will pump you up
and introduce you to the next level of communication
muscle: Tyler Olson, Social Media Consulting;
Dave Meyer, BizzyWeb; Alan Kremer, imagewërks
MARKETING; and Jim Robinson, ITR Group.

Reprinted with Permission Courtesy of New Business Minnesota ©2009 – www.newbizminn.com


2 December 2009

Your
scle
nd the
if you

ew e-trend
t” at light-
from dab-
mping up is
f you don’t
New Busi-
out the lat-
ting; Dave
G; and Jim

workshop
oomington.
eetup net-

Time to Exercise Your


more infor-

Social Media Muscle


Twitter? Twitter,
Facebook?
Facebook,LinkedIn?
LinkedIn and Which
the otherOne?
social media
only work
It’s All About Choosing if you
the Best exercise
Tools with
to Reach them
Your regularly.
Customers.
From the Publisher:
siness is B2B or In
B2C,
thethere are ways
past year all ofwith socialexperienced
us have me- Account,
how fastLinkedIn Profile,
a new e-trend canetc. It willWe
arrive. laywent
the from
founda-
“What’s Twit-
a to achieve business objectives, whether it’s through
ter?” to “Yes, I Tweet” at lightning speed. Introductions are over. It’s now time to move frombusi-
tion for what should happen next to drive your dabbling to full
ditional foot traffic, web traffic, coffee
implementation. appointments,
The theme of exercise andness objectives.
pumping up is appropriate. Social media is a new marketing
c. muscle and if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. To Sometimes
examine thisthattopic
involves training
for our readers,of your employ- Minnesota
New Business
Even though I approached this team
work with social media of experts
every day,to write
I about
ees andthemanagement.
latest trends and strategies:
In many businessTyler Olson,
models, Social Media
Twit-
Consulting;
ll enjoy the excitement aboutDave
this Meyer,
new form BizzyWeb;
of com- Alan ter
Kremer,
does imagewërks MARKETING;
not make sense. Sometimes andLinkedIn
Jim Robinson,
will ITR
unication whenGroup. another business owner chooses not provide much value. Ultimately, it comes down to
make the investment in ashare
They will social media
more campaign.in a free
information who your target
interactive market from
workshop is and3 where
to 5 p.m.theyoncongregate
January 14 at the
ople are curious. PeopleHilton
Airport want to
inunderstand.
Bloomington. People online.
New Business Minnesota will hold its monthly Startup Meetup networking
ant to be a partevent
of it. immediately
It’s clear that following
social media the workshop.
is a For moreisinformation
Twitter a hot topic and
thesetodays
register
andand it hasRSVP go to:
quickly
www.newstartupmeetup.com.
me changer technology. become the main competitor to Facebook.
Should you StumbleUpon your Facebook? Do you Twitter started with the question of “What are you
gg your Twitter? Is it time to finally learn about so- doing?” The premise was that you could Tweet out in
al media? Education on social media is critical for the 140 characters or less what you were doing and your
ccess of any social media campaign. These tools are friends and family could follow you.
ness Minnesota approached this team of experts to write about the lat-
est trends and strategies: Tyler Olson, Social Media Consulting; Dave
Meyer, BizzyWeb; Alan Kremer, imagewërks MARKETING; and Jim
Robinson, ITR Group. 3
They will share more information in a free interactive workshop
from 3 to 5 p.m. on January 14 at the Airport Hilton in Bloomington.
New Business Minnesota will hold its monthly Startup Meetup net-
Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Which One? working event immediately following the workshop. For more infor-
mation and to register and RSVP go to:
www.newstartupmeetup.com.
It’s All About Choosing the Best Tools to Reach Your Customers.
By Tyler Olson ing about your brand and your products and
Special to New Business Minnesota Twitter? Facebook? L
many other things.
Recently Twitter has opened up to two ma-

E
jor search It’sengines,
All About Google and ChoosingBing. Allow- the Bes
verybody is asking us: “What is social ing these two search engines to tap into the
media and how can I use it for my busi- tweets for searches will change the way search
ness”? In a nutshell: social media is a business is B2B or B2C, there are ways with social me-
works forever. Things that are happening live,
new, low-cost marketing channel for small dia to achieve business objectives, whether it’s through
things that news
additional footoutlets cannot
traffic, web possibly
traffic, have
coffee appointments,
business owners, allowing them to commu- up yet will begin to show up in Google search
etc.
nicate with clients, partners, prospects, and instantly.
Even though I work with social media every day, I
friend to further their relationships. This is huge
still enjoy for the search
the excitement about thiscommunity.
new form of com-
With it they can complement their cur- Recently Twitter
munication when has another
opened business
up the people
owner chooses
rent business initiatives and communicate to make
search API –the investment
meaning in be
it will a social
easiermedia
to find campaign.
with those who know them, like them, and thosePeople
you areare curious.
lookingPeople to followwantonline.
to understand.
Twit- People
want to know more about them. wantrecently
ter also to be a part of it. It’s clear
introduced that social
the lists feature,media is a
By using tools such as Facebook, Linke- game changer technology.
which Should
takes the use of Twitter to a whole
you StumbleUpon your Facebook? Do you
new
dIn, and Twitter, businesses are able to more level.Digg your Twitter? Is it time to finally learn about so-
effectively and affordably get in front of Using the right
cial media? socialon
Education media
socialsites
mediaand plat- for the
is critical
more people faster. Whether the business is forms is anofimportant
success any social media aspectcampaign.
of yourThese busi-tools are
B2B or B2C, there are ways with social me- ness.new,
Theretheyare many
evolve different
quickly sites withare
and sometimes dif-
difficult to
dia to achieve business objectives, whether ferent advantages and disadvantages. Using
understand.
it’s through additional foot traffic, web traf- the rightTwitter and other
platforms andsocial
sites media
can bewebsites
as impor-can become
fic, coffee appointments, etc. egies and objectives. Based on what we’ve overwhelming. How do you use
tant as having a strategy; it allows you to most them? Why do you use
Even though I work with social media ev- learned working Bywith
Tylernew Olson
and small business
them? What can you get out of it and how will it help
effectively get in front of your customers and
ery day, I still enjoy the excitement about this you meet your business objectives?
Special to New Business
in general is that perhaps Minnesota
the single most im- clients.To answer these questions, we typically engage with
new form of communication when another Which
portant aspect to using social media is to be- what wetoolscall ouryousocial
should media useAssessment,
heavily de- which will
business owner chooses to make the invest- pendguide
on what
clientsindustry youbasics
are inof and how

E
gin with a solid, well-thought-out approach. through the social media and
ment in a social media campaign. People are verybody
This is asking
strategic plan us:
will“What
defineis social
whethermediayouand yourhowsales and marketing
it could impact theirprocesses
companies.work. It alsoAn
lays out the
curious. People want to understand. People shouldhow can I use it for my business”? In a nutshell:
be setting up a Facebook Fan Page, agency or social
foundation of the media consulting
go-forward firm can
social media Strategy.
want to be a part of it. It’s clear that social social media is a new, low-cost marketing chan- Having the
help explain a strategy to answer
differences in these questions
different siteswill give
Corporate Twitter Account, LinkedIn Profile,
nel for small business owners, allowing them to com-
media is a game changer technology. etc. It will layclients,
the foundation for whatand should you guidance and lay out a plan
and platforms. They can also provide insight to stick with. It’s impor-
municate with partners, prospects, friend
Should you StumbleUpon your Facebook?
tohappen nextrelationships.
further their to drive your business objec- as totant
whyenough that we have
your company staff choose
might to specifically
to usework on
Do you Digg your Twitter? Is it time to fi- tives.
With it they can complement their current business one strategies
over another.and objectives. Based on what we’ve learned
working with new and small business in general is that
nally learn about social media? Education Sometimes
initiatives that involves
and communicate training
with those whoof your
know The last the
thing to most
consider in your social
perhaps single important aspect to using so-
on social media is critical for the success of employees
them, and
like them, andmanagement. In many
want to know more aboutbusi-
them. mediacialplanning
media is tois your
begin time.
with What
a solid, is your
well-thought-out ap-
any social media campaign. These tools are By using
ness toolsTwitter
models, such asdoes
Facebook,
not makeLinkedIn,
sense.and timeproach.
worth? Where should your time be
new, they evolve quickly and sometimes are Twitter,
Sometimesbusinesses are ablewill
LinkedIn to more effectivelymuch
not provide and af- spent? This
Howstrategic
much time is itdefine
plan will goingwhether
to takeyou to should
difficult to understand. fordably get in front of more people faster. Whether the
value. Ultimately, it comes down to who your implement
be settingand up amanage
Facebookthis FanoncePage, you have Twitter
Corporate
Twitter and other social media websites target market is and where they congregate your strategy to meet your objectives?
can become overwhelming. How do you use online. Paying employees is expensive. Hiring an
them? Why do you use them? What can you Twitter is a hot topic these days and it has agency specializing in just social media can
get out of it and how will it help you meet quickly become the main competitor to Fa- save your employees and yourself time and
your business objectives? cebook. headaches when implementing and manag-
To answer these questions, we typically Twitter started with the question of “What ing your social media.
engage with what we call our social me- are you doing?” The premise was that you Tyler Olson, owner and President of Social
dia Assessment, which will guide clients could Tweet out in 140 characters or less what Media Consulting and HelpMeTy.com, has
through the basics of social media and how you were doing and your friends and family consulted on many technology-related topics
it could impact their companies. It also lays could follow you. and has been a speaker at numerous events on
out the foundation of the go-forward social In practice, people began to use the site strategies to help people achieve more through
media Strategy. more for what was happening rather then web technologies. He regularly writes for the
Having a strategy to answer these ques- what they were doing. Companies realized business technology section in PCWorld maga-
tions will give you guidance and lay out a that by joining Twitter they can interact with zine on social networking. He can be reached
plan to stick with. It’s important enough that customers on a whole new level. You can ob- at: tolson@smcpros.com, smcpros.com or twit-
we have staff to specifically work on strat- tain feedback; find out what people are say- ter.com/TyOlson

Reprinted with Permission Courtesy of New Business Minnesota ©2009 – www.newbizminn.com


4

Integrating
Social Media
What’s Next? Getting the Most Out of Your Online Communication.

By Dave Meyer • Search Engine Optimization – more


links to your site equal higher rankings.
Special to New Business Minnesota • Your site’s visitors will be able to easily
share your content with others.

S
ocial media is an amazing tool for mar- • Multimedia integration – video and au-
keting a new business. Tools like Twit- dio are a snap to setup and share.
ter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow cash- • You own your own data (if LinkedIn or
strapped startups a way to generate buzz and Facebook go down or decide to close your
engage their prospects and customers on a page, your data is gone).
more personal level. • Allow your visitors to comment on your
But even with free tools, there’s always a articles (subject to your approval of course).
cost. It takes time to connect with your fans, Another advantage of WordPress is that
share ideas about your products, listen to it puts you in the driver’s seat of your site.
what your customers are saying, or network You don’t need to call your web developer
with prospects and referral sources. to make changes. You just sign in from your
Here’s the good news. There is a trick browser and with a few clicks you can intro-
to consolidating your social media efforts. duce your latest product or announce a new
When it’s done right, updating your social special.
networking accounts can be done through a Customers, clients and prospects expect
single tool – your website. to be part of a conversation with businesses
Just as it doesn’t make sense to force your – posting a press release and calling it a day
logon to their own website from any brows- doesn’t cut it anymore. Your customers want
customers to connect with you only one way
er and publish news articles (or posts), man- to ask questions and provide feedback. They
– you probably wouldn’t limit customers to
age pages and add multimedia content with want be the first to know when something
just connecting over the phone for example,
ease. new is coming. And they want to do it on
or just through a contact form on your web-
Since it was originally created as a “blog- whatever network they prefer.
site – effective communication in
today’s world requires you to be Spend the time
to setup a system to
where people are.
The companies who are best A well-designed website using a tool communicate au-
tomatically to your
able to reach out and connect
social media net-
are the ones who are seeing real
results. Social media tools each
like WordPress can do much of your works, and you’ll
serve a slightly different purpose. slash the amount
Twitter is great for keeping up
with experts in any given field and
social media connecting for you. of time you spend
crossposting to each
marketing ideas. LinkedIn is the network individu-
go-to spot to find talent and net- ally. A profession-
ging” platform, the community of develop- ally designed website that is built to leverage
work with professionals. Facebook is where
ers that created it built in the capability to social media and integrate your efforts will
250 million people go to connect with old
interact with visitors in a personal way. Ar- make generating buzz a lot easier.
friends.
ticles you post to your website can automati- Dave Meyer is the president and owner
Couple the confusion of which network
cally publish to each social site using simple of BizzyWeb, a company that creates Word-
does what with the tools your company al-
plugins, and search engine optimization is Press-powered websites designed to integrate
ready uses – emails, your website, tradition-
handled seamlessly. with social media. BizzyWeb also offers social
al advertising and even in-person network-
With every post you’re getting the word media training webinars and consulting ser-
ing or sales calls – and it’s easy to see why so
out effectively, and engaging your prospects vices. He is a frequent speaker on social me-
many are overwhelmed by it all.
at every step. dia topics, and is currently the president of the
However, a well-designed website using
Advantages of using a tool like Word- Minnesota chapter of the International Asso-
a tool like WordPress can do much of your
Press to integrate your social media efforts ciation of Business Communicators. He can
social media connecting for you.
include: be reached at bizzyweb. com, or follow him on
WordPress is an open-source content
• Automatically publish your news to Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ dave1meyer.
management system that allows users to
LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook fan pages.
5

Social Media is For Real;


Get Plugged In?
It’s Time to Include It In Your Marketing Mix.
By Alan Kremer munity.
Develop quarterly content calendars.
Special to New Business Minnesota This systematically guides the subject mat-
ter, ensuring posts and conversation starters

I
’ll admit it. I’m a natural-born skeptic: A actively support the client’s primary market-
tire kicker. Not of the cynical variety, but ing goals.
the kind born of a desire to make wise Assign one person to have committed
decisions that maximize ROI – for my cli- ownership. As the saying goes, if everybody
ents’ businesses, as well as my own. owns it, nobody does. We encourage our
So when bloggers first started singing clients to identify one person who can take
the praises of social media, I raised an eye- charge of their company’s social media pres-
brow. And when the social media floodgates ence.
opened, I saw the potential, but still doubt- Integrating social media with the over-
ed. Why all the peer pressure to jump on the all marketing program.
bandwagon? Where’s the proof? The value? Social media should never be viewed as
The metrics? a Lone Ranger attempt at marketing a com-
My inner cynic (who said that?) pushed pany. So we think about what links can be
me to investigate social media’s viability as made between social networking efforts and
a real, results-driven initiative, worthy of a a company’s other online/offline marketing
place within a company’s marketing mix. initiatives. How can tactics be cross-pro-
My conclusion? Surprise, surprise: social moted?
Where do we start? Whether you’re a new
media does deserve a spot at the table. Com- I know social networking will continue
business or an existing small business, we
panies that have embraced the two-way, to gain momentum as companies stop feel-
have found it best to focus on three areas:
conversational format have gleaned valuable ing overwhelmed – even frightened – by
determining goals, developing a plan and
information, solidified brand loyalty and this medium. Without question, social me-
aligning the social media strategy with the
some have even monetized dia can be an incredibly powerful venue for
their social presence. companies willing to legiti-
Over the past 12 months, mately engage with their
my company has increas- Companies that have embraced the two-way, contacts and customers.
As with any tactic, the
ingly provided social me-
dia services in response to conversational format have gleaned valuable results should be measured.
But when it comes right
the demand. Our custom-
ers have asked us to help information, solidified brand loyalty and some down to it, the power and
benefits of social network-
them get up to speed…fast.
In fact, one client referred
have even monetized their social presence. ing outweigh its shortcom-
to us as the “personal train- ings, even for a skeptic like
ers” of social media. me.
Beyond an initially unsettling image in- Alan Kremer is an owner and Vice Presi-
company’s big-picture marketing efforts.
dent for Imagewërks Marketing, a company
volving sweatbands and knee socks, I was Determining goals
able to catch his drift. recently named among the 50 fastest growing
Are our clients trying to establish thought
As we work with companies exploring private companies in Minnesota. Imagewërks
leadership with a target audience? Drive
social media opportunities, we come across identifies and solves its clients’ core marketing
traffic to their website? Test a new product
common desires and questions. First, they and communications issues, and offers every-
idea? Nurture leads? Access an elusive niche
want to properly and intelligently plug-in to thing from research and creative strategy to
segment? To start off on the right foot, it is
the right social media circles. They want to design, printing and fulfillment—all under
imperative to identify and quantify their
gain genuine access to – and develop strong, one roof. He can be reached at alan@iwmar-
primary goals.
keting.com. www.iwmarketing.com.
loyal relationships with – their most valuable Developing a plan
contacts and customer segments. We end up This entails three key tasks. Choose a
kind of like “coaches,” working alongside community. It’s important not to bite off
them, helping them achieve their goals. more than can be chewed, so we typically
So, here’s the million-dollar question: recommend starting with one social com-
Why you need a Social Media Strategy?
You Should Hear What People Are Saying About Your Brand.
By Jim Robinson focused effort around the right people.
Use the 80/20 rule – Find the 20 percent
Special to New Business Minnesota of your target market who are the creators,

Y
connectors, influencers who are creating 80
ou never get a second chance to make percent of the content/ buzz around your
a first impression. This has never product/service.
been truer than when jumping into Use search tools to focus on keywords
the Social Media world. Whether or not (e.g., hashtags in Twitter) to identify the
you’re engaged in social networking, your most appropriate people to follow. Consider
company and your brand are most likely be- following your r top customers or product
ing discussed and defined without you. advocates, as well as the competition. If you
It’s a common misconception that so- are unsure where to look ITR can help iden-
cial media is the answer to all business and tify those people with common interests…
marketing problems. Social Media is simply you could even create your own group. You
a tool. It doesn’t replace marketing funda- can do this very easily in most online com-
mentals. It needs to be implemented as part munities such as Facebook.
of a complete marketing plan and business LinkedIn and NING also allow you to
strategy. create a group about anything. You can also
When set up right, it is a dynamic, two- create a blog, or your own online communi-
way media for real-time interaction. Social ty but these take more time and resources.
Media allows businesses to think of the web
as being a place for “conversations” that they Listen, Listen, Listen
can monitor and join. That is a tremendous unhappy customers, disgruntled former em- Once you zero-in on a target segment,
advantage when used correctly. ployees, or disenchanted suppliers. If some- listen to them. The beauty of Social Media
one has a grudge or axe to grind, monitoring is that periodic interaction with custom-
Develop a Strategy is your early warning system. ers (individual business trips, focus groups,
Companies should look at Social Media Remember, Social Media is more than trade shows, etc.) has been replaced with
as they would any other business tool or Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. The online real-time interaction. Take advantage of it.
service. That involves investigating options, universe is expansive and new applications Work with your Social Media partner on
evaluating potential opportunities, planning and services are always emerging. If you monitoring and listening strategies.
how to incorporate it into their business, limit your monitoring to these three appli- Work smarter and not harder. Accept that
and having a sound exit strategy in the event cations, you are doing a disservice to your- the market is changing. The most common
the benefits don’t fully materialize. self, your brand and your company. complaint I hear is, “There is too much data.
Without a strategy and constant moni- I can’t listen to every one of my customers!”
toring, you can appear extremely foolish to Work with an organization that can
Well, you can’t afford not to. If your custom-
your customers and prospects. Worse yet, help you establish a Strategy and ers are willing to talk to you, are you really
one careless posting and a company can Objective. going to hang up the phone? Trust me, your
rapidly loose stature in their industry or You can’t manage what you can’t measure. competitor wouldn’t.
trade. Keep in mind; the first people who You need to understand why you are estab- The key to successful monitoring is in the
will follow you online are your biggest fans, lishing a strategy and what you hope to get rationalizing the data brought in by the tools
and your most agitated detractors. Without out of it. that look across all the Social Media sites,
a plan and measurable goals, you could be There are only four reasons to partici- blogs, etc. With that data in hand, you can
risking market share. pate in social networking; risk management, focus on key problems and opportunities.
If you’re ready to formulate a Social Me- brand management, customer intimacy and All of this is moving very quickly, as you
dia strategy, remember that you want to get financial (Revenue generations and cost re- have probably noticed. Now is the time for
it right from the beginning. Take your time. duction). you to take action to become engaged with
Think it through. And ask for help before What are you trying to accomplish? Do your customers and your community with
you need it. you want to understand your customer’s re- the right dialogue and message.
quirements? Do you want to promote your Jim Robison is the Social Media Capabil-
Getting Started products? Do you want to enhance your
Monitor the Social Media arena to un- ity Manager for ITR Group. ITR group is a
brand? Answering these questions will de- national leader in Social Media Consulting,
derstand how you should participate. Social fine how you use Social Media, which works
Media Monitoring allows you to identify Business and Technology Consulting, and
best as a component of your larger market- Mobile Development. He has provided tech-
people who might be interested in what you ing programs.
have to say or sell. Monitoring will help you nology and marketing solutions for many
Fortune 500 companies such as Visa, Capi-
in finding, connecting, conversing, and en- Gain confirmation that you’re tal One, GMAC and Wells Fargo. He can be
gaging with them. focusing on the right efforts.
Social Media monitoring is one of the reached at: jimr@itrgroupinc.com or (651)
Use an established organization to help 757-4500.
most reliable and fastest ways to identify you identify your target market and create a