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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Competition "Social Network Style"

What is your social strategy? Do you have a social strategy? There are many ways  to start your social campaign, but really only one that will work, yours. There are a few models I have seen lately,

It is said that Burger King does not do extensive location research, and just plops a new Burger King next to a McDonalds. Micky D's does all the work and BK's copies.  Imitation IS the highest form of flattery, and being first to market costs money. But being first, and tailoring your strategy to your end goal is like a custom fit suit. Sure, the guy down the street can buy Armani after you do, but if he doesn't get it tailored, he might as well have gone to the Salvation Army and picked something up there. I have seen many of my competitors copy what we do, for me it's a symbol and alarm to change and find something new to do.  New ideas have a shelf life, and although they do things differently than you do, because they didn't create it, it will not last too long.

I'll just say it now - bad mouthing is a way to compete that is well used. Digs in tweets, back handed status updates, but do they really help?  I am no Pollyanna, and taking the higher road is a tough one some times. People are not always honest, nice and some don't have any good will in their body. It's amazing as a bystander to watch people latch to the dynamic person, constantly flattering them and you know otherwise. I will tell you one thing from my short tenure in a small town. No one cares what your opinion really is, trust me. They want to be fluffed and folded and loved. Keep your slander to a minimum, it's ugly and will bite you in the butt one day.

This is my personal favorite.  It's positive, it's community building, it's good for the local economy.  The one thing you have to keep in mind when you are using this strategy, is making sure that you both (or more) benefit from the marketing program.  If you do, you will see your referrals go straight through the roof.  Think about it, if I always win from a referral to my next door neighbor, then I am very likely to do it, and they will reciprocate - it's a constant reminder that right around your corner, there are businesses to support.

Let's think of some ways to make this work.  I have a wine bar, and there is a bakery across the street. We both do catering, and work with weddings.  Every time I do a quote, I offer the bakery's services and products as add ons to our package. We hope that they do the same, but I am pretty sure that he hasn't thought about it in the same way - it's an unbalanced relationship.  Now down the street, there is a new bar. They have food as well and are the biggest newest thing - they not only give no corkage fee to people who buy wine at our place and bring it there, but they refer people when there is a line.  We in turn take calls when tables are available, and refer people there for after hours.  It's much more reciprocal, and stops the "wars" that people try to start between businesses.  It's like they want us to fight, but we don't. I spend time going there in my off hours.  It's as good as two competitive businesses are going to get, and I think it's the right thing to do. But how can we apply it in Social Media? I check in there every time I go, and share it with our followers. I link to their pages on our town page that I manage, and suggest it to people as a tip when they check in.  I will start working with them for reciprocal ideas.

Can you think of businesses that you can work with on your street? In your area?  Share your experiences - I can always learn more!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get off my lawn!

This blog entry is more of an etiquette lesson. But I will put it in real terms too. Imagine that the guy painting your house, put a sign in your front yard without telling you.  Or the guy running for office put his bumper sticker on your car without asking you if you supported him, or would even want the sticker.
That's what it's like when someone posts their ad to your pages and accounts without consulting you.  It's an invasion of privacy, and potentially an attack on your brand.

I manage several Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and the whatnot. When someone posts to my page (other than a customer) trying to promote their band, art, business without consulting me - I delete it. Plain and simple, across the board, I delete it (or hide depending on the system). I then message them what they can do to cross brand with us and wait for them to communicate back.  Most of the time, it's spam. It's like when people post their events on the outside of my windows at the wine bar, I take them down.  It's actually even against a public ordinance, so I can't be the only one that feels this way.

So why do I write this? Not to be a nag, but there are ways to cross market that aren't trespassing on others pages. Basically it comes down to figuring out the commonality between your two companies/organizations - For example: If you have an event, and you would like to tell my company's customers about it, see how it can compliment my traffic that evening and maybe get us more customers because your event brings them in town.  Remember, my company worked hard to get that customer base - you are borrowing it. Cross-marketing is an amazing way to get people together from similar backgrounds.  I am on the board of our Village Association, and we constantly are trying to work to get people to the Village to experience all of the businesses and sites.  It's not easy to make it look cohesive, but when it works, it works well.

Short blog today - moral of the story - don't advertise your interest on other people's pages without their nod.  End of message :)