Gail Z. Martin is the creator of The Solopreneur Survival Guide, the host of the Shared Dreams podcast and the author of 30 Days to Social Media Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn and Facebook. Gail is an international speaker on marketing and social media, and in her spare time, she writes a bestselling fantasy adventure series of books. She founded Dream Spinner Communications in 2002 and now works with clients through the US and Canada.
She joined the show recently to talk about her great new book: 30 Days to Social Media Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn and Facebook.
You can listen to our conversation here.
Gail. Thank you for being on our show. I don’t encourage stalking but I do encourage following. So where are you and what are you working on right now?
- 30-Day Results Guide that’s specific to the book
- Gail Martin Marketing and Dream Spinner Communications.
These pages are brand new and I want to fill them up.
You inspired me for several reasons including your books. But one thing that inspired me was your background in traditional PR and your ability to embrace social media. How did a nice, successful PR person like you end up walking into the non-stop, unmanaged, global cocktail party known as social media?
My fascination with the computer’s possibilities for PR goes back a long way. Back in the mid-80’s when I did my MBA I doubled up between marketing and computer systems and marketing and everyone told me I was crazy....marketing has nothing to do with computers.
From the mid-90s I was helping companies with their websites... that’s an eternity in internet days. There I was first having to educate CEOs on what a website was and why they needed one. And social media was just a logical extension. Marketing is just about communication and social media is a great way to do that.
I think the PR industry has been late to the business for social media for a couple of reasons. In any business people like to stick with what they know. Traditional PR has a long history. Social media is a component of a successful campaign. But I’m not going to tell you it’s a silver bullet. But I do think it is an important element.
I also think control is another big piece of it. When you send out a traditional pr piece it’s all nice and neat and approved. You send it to reporters you already know. There’s a nice little formalized dance about how PR coverage is supposed to go.
Everyone says they want word of mouth. Word-of-mouth is messy and viral and you don’t control it any more. And that’s exactly what social media is.
Let’s talk about your book: 30 Days to Social Media Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s an awesome book. I like it for its real world, let’s do it today, approach. And I like it for all the practical tips and steps. Anyone even someone who’s never been on a social media site.... could pick this book up and have social media success in 30 days, 30 minutes a day.
Who were you talking to as you wrote this book? Describe them for us.
Why should they read it?
The people I wrote the book for are small business owners and solo professionals, people who are out there in the trenches have a limited budget but know that they need to let their audience they are in business and what problem they can solve for their customers
A lot of those people are afraid of social media. Many folks are coming in to being a business owner, maybe a 2nd career after having left corporate, but a lot of folks aren’t sure what they’re getting into with marketing their business. They bring a lot of subject matter experience but not much in the way of marketing their business.
I want to help those folks succeed through marketing and make their dream come true.
It’s interesting you mention that small business is afraid of social media. On the fear scale, I had the impression that Fortune 1500, 500, Fortune 15 companies had the greater amounts of fear for social media whereas the smaller businesses would see the opportunity.
I think you have fear on both sides for different reasons.
The huge companies are afraid because it’s not something they are faamiliar with and of not tightly controlling the message or knowing what’s going to happen or unfold every hour of the PR launch.
There’s a different fear on the small business side. They have limited amount of time and budget. They’re not really sure why they need to be on social media although everyone tells them they should be. they are leery about getting into something they’re not sure they have the time to manage and they’re not really clear of what to expect.
The biggest question is people say I’m on Facebook and now what. Everybody told me I needed to be here and I put up a profile and here I’m staring at the computer screen and now what.
The other thing is that I get this question from people who put up a Facebook profile and they get these messages from people who they don’t know and who want to follow them....What do I do!?!?!?
Last week’s guest was Erika Andersen. She also wrote an excellent book titled Being Strategic. And in it she coined the phrase: reasonable Aspiration or hoped-for future. What was your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future with writing this book?
My reasonable aspiration was that I wanted to publish with a major business publisher and get a book in the hands of small business owners and solo professionals and they could get quick results and get strategic results.
My hoped-for goal is that it really becomes the go-to book for that same audience and that it eventually goes viral. But I’m happy getting the books in the hands of those who need to read it.
Metrics are important for social media success. What metrics will you use to measure your progress towards this reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future?
That’s really where having a strategy comes in. Because what I advise readers in the book to do is to know what their number one business goal is and how to measure it. I recommend everyone have really measurable goals. Don’t just say I want more business...say I want 15% more profit by the end of the year or I want 25 more regular clients. You can measure that.
You’re looking at 30 touches to go from a prospect to a buyer. You need 7 - 30 contacts to get people to where they need to buy.
Social media is a terrific inexpensive way to make many of those touches: educate your prospect, answer their questions, showcase your credibility and expertise. Customers buy on their time-frame. Not when we the providers are ready to sell. The key thing is to touch the right people who are likely to be your best prospects and then stay in touch until it’s the time they are ready to buy. And social media can really make that happen.
I’ve noticed that many social media experts and gurus they tend to avoid the icky subject called profits and cash-flows and paying customers. Some even say these metrics aren’t important. You went right there. First point.
If you’re a business owner that had better be your first metric. Eyeballs and impressions and reads are great to see if anyone has really seen something. But, what really matters is pulling people into your orbit so they gradually go from window-shopper to buyer.
There are certainly other ways to tell social media is happening for you. If you’re seeing an increase of traffic to your website or more peple opting into receive a newsletter from you...that’s certainly a tangible result. Getting great comments to your blog or twitter to see people are on topic. Getting great questions. The point is you are starting a conversation with people who are likely to become a a customer and you wouldn’t have met those people without social media.
These touches are much less of an interruption than if I am always interrupting you to say "hey, wanna buy my stuff, wanna buy my stuff..."
You discuss 4 social media resources, primarily: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, Linkedin. In my little world I see them serving 4 distinct audiences and conversations. Is that correct. How do you blend them together?
The genius with social media is you can use social media to leverage and reinforce the other kind of marketing you’re doing. You can also use the sites to reinforce each other.
Facebook is like a networking luncheon. You pay your money for a chicken lunch and the chance to walk around and trade your business card and have short conversations with other business professionals and everyone hopes to come out of there with a few business leads.
Twitter is more like a cocktail party. You move around a lot from person-to-person and you don’t get into any in-depth conversations. You hope you leave around a few witty sparklers behind you so people will remember you. Twitter and Facebook is all about meeting new people you wouldn’t meet any other way.
Blogging is much more like in depth conversation with a circle of people who are interested in engaging. It’s more of an in-depth focused conversation.
LinkedIn is more about sitting down with someone you know and seeing how I can be a resource for you and you can be a resource for me. And the Blackberry’s come out and you really oughta talk to this person.
Many folks see the business plan as the document that once prepared is never seen again or is only shown the bank loan officer. But you describe the Business Plan as the most powerful marketing tool. Why?
A lot of people, if they put a business plan together at all, write it in the first months of starting a company and then put it in the drawer and never look at it again. Or, they put it together for a very specific purpose like getting a loan, so it’s very detailed and very focused with a lot of detailed graphs and charts.
My business plan approach is not related to either of those. What I want readers to focus on is their top business goal. That could be a specific percentage increase in profits or a target increase in clients or getting their product showcased in 4 new retail outlets. But it needs to be something measurable.
Once that top goal has been set now you have a focus. And a screen you can look through every opportunity that you can say yes, I could do that but is it getting me closer to my goal?
That’s a huge thing for owners. So many people are wracked with doubt about their marketing and they are bombarded with choices. They don’t have any filter that let’s them know reliably which choices are good and which choices are not going to help them. When you focus on that top business goal and you’re using it for a check for that reality then those choices become much easier and the choice of which social media to use becomes much easier.
Besides a 30 day plan, using 30 minutes a day you also have a 30 Rule for each chapter. What was the idea behind your 30 Rule and if a reader could only follow one 30 Rule...what would it be?
My Rule of 30 comes back to that idea that it takes 30 touches to convert a window-shopper into a buyer. There are so many ways to find 30 ways. Start with the people in your address book. Start with your blackberry. I’m willing to bet you can invite 30 of those in a half hour per day.
If you can do anything 30 times you’re going to break through that barrier.
Maybe it’s 30 emails or 30 press releases or 30 people you’ve friended on Facebook.
Which one did you find most useful for your work?
I think the idea of coming up with 30 distinct touches for the same prospect that were unique. Not necessarily hitting them with 3o issues of the same newsletter but you send them a newsletter, then a follow-up email, and then you send them a call, and you follow them on twitter, and you send them a personal card. You see how spread out over time you’re chipping away like water on rock. They should remember you from sharing information they want.
Am I touching them in 30 different ways over a few months time? That’s significantly increasing your close rate.
My lists push people out of their comfort zone. 30 is a stretch goal. But think about how many people you could contact in a short time contacting 30 a day.
You list 5 myths about social media. What are these? Which one is most commonly held by small business?
The first myth is that it’s a fad. It’s going to go the way of Pet Rocks. It’s here to stay because it works. It’s such a valuable way of communicating.
Another prominent misconception is that it’s only for teenagers. People saw that this was a really cool way to communicate and it had value. the fastest growing demographic is people over 35 years of age. And these adults want to talk business.
Another misconception is that if you have a local business then soc med has nothing for you. You can use soc med to be intensely local. People fr om your hometown will start to gravitate to your fab page. you can be the source of local news.
Another thing is people have this idea that social media is a black hole. If you’re out there to achieve a goal and you’re clear about what you need to do in your 30 minutes then it’s easier to skip the Mafia Wars, the Farmville’s et.
Another idea is that it’s like walking down skid row with all of these crazy identity thieves and serial killers who are waiting for you to put a Facebook page so they can get ya. The internet has some scary side alleys just like any city does. I assume business people are adults and they know how to meet other adults in a business setting without giving over their bank account numbers or their social security numbers.
What’s usually the first eureka moment in this 30-day journey?
I think when you go out there with a plan and you start to find other people, in fact a lot of other people, talking about your topic and these are people you could help and they’re already interested in your topic and you just need to get to know them.
It’s like discovering all of these networking groups you could find and they’re free. That’s phenomenally helpful.
There’s a great conversation going on and just waiting for you to jump in.
And then what’s the first push-back moment where they encounter a little friction or resistance. How does your book help them continue?
Many people get the impression that if you build it they will come. Social media is this magic bullet and you can put up a Facebook page and you’ll come in the next day and have 10,000 followers and have more business than you can handle.
All good things take time.
If you planted a garden and went out the next morning and said "well that’s a waste of time; nothing's growing."
Seeds take awhile to sprout.
So do results in any kind of marketing. I see the same thing in social media.
It takes persistence. It takes commitment to find the people that you want to connect with and wooing them to connect with you and then it takes the commitment to be present until the time in their life to buy from you.
Most of the time it’s about establishing that relationship to get to know you before they’re ready to buy from you.
It’s not a cash machine, just putting in your password and letting cash spew out.
Can you describe a client story who used 30 days, 30 minutes? Maintaining confidentiality of course.
She wasn’t doing a hard-sell. She was just going out offering advice, being a good neighbor. And in a few weeks she had 150 visits and comments on her website to at least check out her services.
That’s a terrific lead generator.
You get 150 lookers to your website. Some percentage are going to become buyers. That’s a pretty good result for a few minutes of your time going out and being a good neighbor.
You have a separate chapter for social media with non-profits. What’s the key difference for using social media with a for-profit vs. non-profits?
For-profits are ultimately looking to find customers. Non-profits are looking to change the world. Non-profits understand the long lead a little bit better than for-profit.s. Non-profits understand how important is the need for community education and the need to give free information. Non-profits have been more receptive to social media first of all because it’s free and they have a limited budget.
But, there’s also a tremendous amount of creativity in the non-profit arena. It ranges from fund-raising to volunteer organizing to animal rescue matching abandoned pets with homes. They’ve just waded in.
You talk about other social media tools besides the Big 4 of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. What are some of these? How important are they?
YouTube is a great tool for adding video to your site. People get a better sense of who you are when they can see and hear you and not just read you.
All of these all have aps that make it easy to add YouTube video.
Flickr and other photo-sharing tools are great way to add pictures out there. Flickr takes a dim view of heavily commercial photos. But you can share photos from your latest trade show or event.
Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg and Del.ici.ous if you’ve ever torn an article out of amagazine and put a sticky note on it for your significant other or your partner with ‘hey you gotta read it’ well, you get the idea with these tools. It’s a way to let the world know ‘hey, you have to read this.’ It’s a wonderful thing when people find what you share is valuable.
Let’s talk about ROI, return on investment. This topic seems to get everybody, social media users, businesses, social media agencies all excited either proclaiming the metrics or proclaiming that metrics really aren’t important in social media. I think agencies in that last camp want to be paid upfront, too. How does a company measure its ROI from social media? Take us from the start to the bottomline.
One measure of ROI is are people responding to your friend request. Are you getting people who find you and friend you that you didn’t reach out to? Is your friend and follower list growing. Side note: I don’t think people need to have 1 million followers the way Lady Gaga does. But if a company has a 500 or 2000, you know 2500, people who are REALLY interested in what you have to say then you can generate more business than you know what to do with.
Sure, you can generate a bigger list of people who are really interested, then your odds are having more people ready to buy are going to increase. The trick is reaching out to people who want
Maintaining and building those connections is one measure of ROI. If you were to spend money to buy a list or spend money to go to a trade show to be exposed to 2000 people in your industry is a return on investment.
So, early on that exposure is a ROI. Maintaining those connections and seeing people stick around.
Then getting people to talk with you. Now you’re starting to move down the sales funnel into going from listeners and lurkers, those who walk around the edge and are now starting to reach out and engage you. You pay money for that opportunity to get. That’s another form of ROI.
When someone moves further to go out to yourwebsite because they found you on social media and signs up for one of your download products. And they put themselves on your opt-in email list and now you have another of the 30 ways to make touches.
When you reach out to your social media contacts and ask for help and your group of people respond to you with valuable input. That’s tremendously valuable. That’s a ROI that I really love.
To me, all of those are bonafide ROIs for my time to cultivate social media...in addition to the sales.
Social media is just a fantastic tool for getting more people from more places into the top of the sales funnel.
Why is that so difficult for new social media users, particularly business and small business, to see?
The things we know very well and take for granted in the real world seem strange when you interpose a computer into the mix. So people knows if you go to a luncheon you know it’s unlikely you’re going to come away with $1000 in business. But if you stop going you won’t come away with any business. They will be the first people to say they’ve been on Facebook for 3 months and haven’t generated any business.
It’s the same way. It seems strange and unfamiliar because it’s on the computer.
Social media is a networking event that crosses time zones and geographic border. And they’ve got money to spend.
There is so much free information from some of the biggest leaders in the business world. You can get a business information for free. And then you can pick from that and decide who you want to come back and spend some more time and money.
You’re a leader. You’re an avid writer, also. Jim Rohn says that Leaders are readers. What are you reading in business or for fun?
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on speaking. I’ve been reading a lot of books on how to be a better professional speaker.
I re-read Michael Port’s book Book Yourself Solid now for about the 6th time. I’m constantly reinventing my business so that book and his sequel to that are very valuable.
I’m also always reading books about social media and the internet...because it’s always changing.
And on your non-business reading list...?
In my free time, I write an international best-selling fantasy adventure series The Chronicles of the Necromancer.
Lately I’ve taken a detour into reading mysteries with a paranormal bent. They’re kinda popcorn books I can read in the car waiting for my kids or with a cup of tea at the end of the day.
Where are you speaking?
The best place to find this is on my Gail Martin marketing site.
For the fiction books, there are a lot of book signings and events ranging from here in Charlotte to Philadelphia and parts in between.
What’s the most important rule, bit of advice, you want our listeners to remember about social media?
Go in with a strategy and a commitment that you’re going to stay there and nurture your social media connections like you would nurture a garden. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s not an overnight success. But if you approach it strategically. And if you stay committed it can become an incredibly powerful tool for growing your business.
Let’s remind our listeners where they can follow you on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
My blog and twitter feed my home page at Gail Martin Communications.
My blog is at Marketing Turnaround.
You can find me on Twitter at GailMartinPR.