Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 14, 2014 @ 13:11 PM

why blog?










Jeff Bullas recently asked the question, in the title of this blog, in his post "44 Reasons Why You Should Use Social Media for Your Personal and Business Brand."

The biggest reason for me is to "leave a legacy." I don't have any kids. I've helped more than 100 people become successful marketing professionals.

I felt like my blog was a place where I could capture and share everything I've learned, and continue to learn, over the course of my career.

Hopefully providing information of value to business owners and marketing professionals will help them:

  1. Grow their business.
  2. Engage and empower their employees.
  3. Understand the value of customers versus revenue.
  4. Commit to providing an outstanding customer experience.
  5. Learn from some of the mistakes I've made.

Building a network, and making connections, on social media has been invaluable. It's given me an opportunity to connect with people I would have never met -- with them adding value to my life, and hopefully, me adding value to their's.

I love what Guy Kawasaki says, "The Internet rewards those who share information, and penalizes those who hoard it."

Blogging consistently is a great way to capture, and share, your thoughts and information of value.

It's also a great way to build awareness, traffic and leads. The key is consistency of message and presence. Most people who start a blog stop blogging after two to three months.

I know from experience, and data shared by HubSpot and other companies, that it takes six months to build a following that will help to double website traffic and improve SEO. Although I also know that by publishing at least twice a week, I've doubled traffic and leads for clients and employers in less than three months.

Do you share information of value to create awareness of your brand and to build your business? If not, and you'd like some help getting started, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 


Don't have a website or need a refresh? Website are becoming easier to build as well with free resources like Squarespace and Wix and information of value from companies like That's on my "to do" list.

Tags: be reliable, be real, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

Guest Blog: What to Do When Your Social Media Campaign Backfires

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 13, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

NYPD twitter fail








The NYPD Effect: What to Do When Your Social Media Campaign Backfires


Almost everyone uses social media. More than 70% of Internet users are involved in at least one of the major social media networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram – or even all of them. []


Using social media for branding and customer engagement often is paved with good intentions, but it doesn’t always assure that everything is going to work out well.


Take, for example, what happened to the New York Police Department (NYPD) in April 2014, when it tried to establish itself as a brand and engage its customers on Twitter. []


NYPD is one of the major police forces in the country that have been working hard to improve community involvement. Aside from setting up its own Twitter account, it also launched a campaign early this year inviting people to upload and tag a photo with an NYPD police officer with the hashtag #mynypd. []


Well, it didn’t really turn out as planned, where photos of NYPD officers interacting with community members in a positive light would be uploaded and tagged, because within only a few hours after the campaign’s launch, the hashtag went viral for all the wrong reasons: people started uploading a variety of pictures showing NYPD police officers in compromising situations (e.g., depicting harassment and brutality).


Worse, other police departments got involved as Twitter users tagged their officers in photos depicting negative circumstances, too.


It turns out that the NYPD effect happens far too many times, particularly on Twitter with its millions of active users all around the globe and where trends can be monitored in real time and easily go viral.


Similar fiascos have happened to some well-known corporate entities including McDonald’s, Amy Baking Company and even celebrities like Robin Thicke. [], [], [].


If you ever find yourself in such a situation, what should you do?


  1. Don’t let it run for too long. If there’s one good thing about social media failure, it’s that you can see its effect within hours. Thus, you always have the option to end it as soon as possible, which is definitely suggested.

  2. Avoid feeding on the trolls. Trolls are Internet users that love to ignite heated discussions and arguments with the brand and/or among its followers through posting offensive, hurtful, below-the-belt comments and inflammatory media such as photos or videos. Trolls are growing by astonishing numbers [], so you need to be very careful in how you deal with them:

    * Don’t respond to anything offensive. That’s what trolls want you to do. Remember that. 

    * Block them immediately from your social media account. This way, your other followers won’t see their remarks, and they have no other means of communicating with you unless they create a new account. 

    * Take legal action. If you feel that their comments are untrue and are hurting the brand, do know that you can always take an appropriate legal action, but be discreet about it.

  3. Take control of the situation. Apologize if you have offended users with your campaign or strategy, even if that wasn’t your intention. You can never fault other people’s feelings or perceptions about an issue. Deal with the trolls, but respond to certain serious concerns and questions. Pick one social media person to maintain consistent feedback to your followers.

  4. Use it to your advantage. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Tell your followers that you appreciate all feedback, whether good or bad, and that all feedback can be used to improve your product or service. Then follow through with action on that feedback so that your followers can see that you have put your words into practice. This builds trust.


Social media teaches brands a very painful and hard lesson: you can’t please everyone. There will be hundreds or even thousands who will taunt and say something bad about your brand on a daily basis. The keys to surviving any kind of social media backfire are to be objective, maintain a positive, calm mind and act upon the lessons you learn.


About the Author
This article was provided by our friends at Fluid Review. As a leader in the cloud-based application management sphere, hundreds of organizations use FluidReview to make better decisions in their scholarship, grant and fellowship programs.

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, authenticity, social media

5 Steps to Omnichannel Marketing and Customer Service

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Sep, 05, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

omnichannel marketing









Great article by Perry Simpson in a recent edition of Direct Marketing News entitled "5 Ways to Evolve Your Marketing to Omnichannel."



I wanted to share the five steps and comment on them as well as share several points made in the article:

  • According to the Rightnow Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of customers say they have stiopped doing business with a company after one poor customer experience.

  • Omnichannel marketing, and customer service, is the fundamental practice of providing a seamless marketing experience across multiple channels.

  • Marketers need to ask themselves, what can we do to simplify the lives of our customers and make them more loyal.
The more you can do to save your customers time and simplify their lives, the more loyalty you will earn.
We all know the frustration of having to repeat our information to different service reps on the same call or reenter data when we are dealing with online forms or chat.
What are you doing to make the lives of your customers and clients easier?
Here are the five steps:
  1. Think holistically. Think about the entire customer experience. Map it. Identify the gaps in service that exist between the silos of your organization. It's becoming more common for customers to complete a single transaction acrosss multiple channels. If you don't have a 360-degree view of the customer, you will not be able to provide a seamless, simple, transaction.

  2. Build collaboration. Silos exist in all organizations. It's important to collaborate across silos to identify what a seamless customer experience is and to make the commitment to everyone in the organization having a single view of the customer.

    While silos can still exist within the organization, data silos on customers cannot if you are committed to providing a seamless, omnichannel experience.

    You have to ensure all of the segments of the organizations can work together and share information for the good of the customer.

  3. Map the experience. Know how your customers went about becoming your customers. Sales and marketing need to sit in a room together and map the customer's buying journey and then share their findings with a few customers to ensure they haven't missed any steps or made incorrect assumptions about what the customers actually did and what they were thinking at the time.

    Do this by having one-on-one interviews with the customer about their buying process. They're more likely to provide personal insights in a one-on-one conversation versus a focus group.

    Ultimately, marketers need to define what experience they want their customers to have and then move them through the marketing and sales process in a way that's makes it easy for the customer to buy the product or service you are selling with confidence and trust.

  4. Explore low-tech solutions. Marketing automation and analytics have made omnichannel marketing more attainable. However, don't forget to engage your customers in a dialog about what works for them and what they consider to be an acceptable, as well as, an exceptional, customer experience.

    Providing an exceptional omnichannel customer experience is the best way to turn satisfied customers into "raving fans" that share their experience with friends, family, colleagues as well as all their social media "followers."
  5. Embrace transparency. Be real, be realiable, be responsive. Companies that provide an inconsistent customer experience acrosss channels confuse their prospects and customers.

    Consistency breeds trust. Inconsistency breeds distrust and causes your to lose leads, prospects and customers as evidenced by the opening statistic from Rightnow. 
What steps can you, and your firm, take to provide a seamless omnichannel experience for your customers?
The more you are able to do now, the more it will benefit your firm, and differentiate your firm from competitors, now.
Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: transparency, trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, consistent messaging, omnichannel marketing and customer service

Top 10 Tips for Compelling Updates on LinkedIn to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 29, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Accelerate sales with LinkedIn






Thanks to Jamie Phan of LinkedIn for sharing LinkedIn Content Marketing Best Practices.


I’ve been a LinkedIn user for a number of years. I have used it to build brands, introduce new products and services and solve business problems.


Jamie’s 10 Tips for Compelling Updates are good for every marketer to remember whether their using LinkedIn, or some other social media platform, to promote their business.


  1. Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead. Have a concise title of 90 to 140 characters. They are more likely to result in higher engagement. Customize your headline for the audience you are targeting and for the social media channel you are using.
  2. Always include a clear call to action. What steps do you want the reader to take next? Share, call, respond with their thoughts or questions. Include links with a call to action. Updates with links typically result in double the engagement of updates with no links.
  3. Drive engagement with an image or rich media. Stand out with an eye-catching image or some or of rich media. An image can double engagement rates.
  4. Post YouTube/Vimeo videos to encourage sharing. Links to these videos play directly in the LinkedIn feed and typically result in a 75% higher share rate. SlideShare is also a great way to share information of value.
  5. Avoid hypertargeting. Don’t add so many targeting filters that you exclude potential audiences.
  6. Engage with members through comments. Keep the conversation going. Monitor discussions and remove inappropriate comments. Develop a plan to proactively handle any customer service issues that may surface. Be real, be responsive, be reliable, or be gone.
  7. Monitor, analyze and refine your content. Track all available analytics. Pay attention to the audience targeting types of content, time of day and frequency that drive the most interactions. A/B test headlines and images. Engagement rates do not drop on the weekends; however, traffic does.
  8. The more exclusive the information, the more interest you’ll generate. People like to get “inside information.” Your followers will appreciate sneak peeks inside your company, new products, new uses for products, even new office space. Make sure you give people things that are a bit special or exclusive. Let them see behind the curtain. They’ll develop a stronger emotional connection to your brand and your employees.
  9. Variety is key to making people hungry for more. Post one to two times a day to maximize organic reach and think about sharing a variety of images, links, video, SlideShare presentations, information or value, as well as commercial messages.
  10. Optimize your landing page for mobile and tablet engagement. More than 70% of sponsored update engagement comes from mobile devices. Don’t pay money to drive people to a bad browsing experience. You may never get them to visit you again.

What other suggestions do you have for creating compelling updates on LinkedIn?


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues


Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, accelerate sales, be relevant

Limiting Online Reviews Inhibits Transparency, Integrity and Insights

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 31, 2014 @ 11:07 AM

Lack of transparency





My sister in-law is a frequent traveler who booked a three-day trip to New York to shop and visit museums with a friend of her's from Chicago.


She used Expedia to book the six-star Pierre, a Taj Property, and was disappointed and embarrassed by the service she and her friend received.


When she tried to post a less than stellar review on Expedia, she was told, "Your hotel review needs revision."


This is the gist of what she said:


  • The staff was polite but they didn't know what time their restaurants opened.  My friend and I were sent back and forth between the restaurants at the hotel because neither were open with staff telling us they were open when, in fact, they weren't.
  • My tea arrived on a pretty tablecloth but the waiter brought French toast which I didn't order.
  • The tea pot burned my hand because the handle was metal and had no cover.
  • The hair dryer was cheap and burned my hair,
  • When I checked out, we asked the porter for our 5 pieces of baggage.   he said "okay", then turned around and started talking to the other staff members.  when we reminded him we had a flight to catch, he went to get the bags, which we could see in the hallway.   It took three staff members to count our bags. How many staff members does it take . . .
  • All in all, I chose the hotel expecting first rate service and got just an above averge hotel stay.  I was so disappointed because I thought so highly of the hotel's reputation.
  • The location is superb; can't ask for better.


"When I told my friends at work about my experience, they said........"maybe that's why you can find that hotel on Expedia."


Expedia is not doing themselves, their customers or the Pierre any favors.


I saw recently where Four Seasons had just surpassed Ritz Carlton in terms of customer service.


If Taj Hotels don't get feedback from disgruntled customers, how are they going to improve.


Companies like Expedia are wasting the value of voice of the customer (VOC) feedback by trying to supress less than perfect ratings.


I've seen car dealers do this and they're just hurting themselves.


Be real, be reliable, and be responsive -- or be gone.

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"


Tags: consumer insights, transparency, be reliable, be responsive, integrity, be real, VoC, voice of the customer

How to Deliver Smart Customer Service for a Great Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 10, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

customer experience = customer engagement










Thanks to Scott Hays of Kana, Ann Ruckstuhl (#annruck), Kai Petzalt of SAP and Tim Pickard of New Voice Media for sharing their thoughts on delivering smart customer service.


Smart customer engagement leads to better customer service and a better customer experience.


An experience is something you have. Engaged is something you, or your customers, are.


To optimize customer engagement, you need to:

  1. enrich customer interactions;

  2. improve processes; and,

  3. optimize and empower your workforce to provide great experiences that will result in an engaged customer.


Customers expect personalized treatment. Personalization requires context -- "know me, work with me."


Customers are constantly connected via smart phones, tablets and PCs. This has resulted in a fragmented customer journey.


Touchpoints are neither integrated, nor leveraged. Each customer interaction lacks the context of an entire journey. There's tremendous dependency on historical data.


26% of a CSR's time is spent looking for relevant data. This results in an inferior customer experience.


The solution is customer journey management whereby you collect, detect and engage with the customer in real time. 


A better CSR experience leads to a better customer experience, which, in turn, leads to greater lifetime value of the customer.


Smart business insights are gained by having actionable insight while engaged with the customer on the phone, via online chat, via email, on social channels. You must integrate all of these channels to provide an outstanding customer experience.


Today's customers have more choices and they are more open to making changes if the level of service is inferior.


Social media is driving awareness of customer service levels and the "wow" customer experiences people are having.


Going forward, we can expect companies to be more proactive and better informed in order to improve the customer experience.


This is especially true for millennials who have grown up with technology and smart phones.


Companies must recognize that for millennials, the customer experience is part of the product/service, as well as the brand.


Key Takeaway: Provide customers with choice and make it simple and easy for them to do business with you digitally. 


Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: trust, customer experience, customer satisfaction, be reliable, be responsive, VoC, voice of the customer, empower employees, CRM, customer service

Empower Influencers and Raving Fans to Grow Your Business

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 03, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

influencers and raving fans







Great webinar by David Amerland (@davidamerland), Linda West of Act-On, and Carly Tatum (@carlyjeane) at Dell entitled, "Influencers 2.0: ROI of the Influencer" presented by Social Media Today (#smtlive).


The key takeaway from the webinar -- provide a great customer experience (#cx) to engage your influencers (a.k.a., raving fans).


We live in an age of advocacy. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing grows more powerful as social media grows.


An increase in brand advocacy is one of the most important benefits of social media. Content is shared, comments are made and awareness and attention is gained. You just want to ensure that what's being said about you, and your brand, is positive not negative.


Do this by being relevant, being reliable, being responsive and being real.


Fail to do any of the four and you'll be called out in social media and lose the trust of influencers, customers and prospects.


Marketing induced customer-to-customer word-of-mouth generates more than two times the sales of paid advertising.


Why do consumers write about brands online?


  • 64% offer advice

  • 61% praise a brand

  • 52% criticize a brand

  • 51% share contents produced by a brand


Influencers and raving fans can seriously drive a brand message.


Influencers and raving fans are gatekeepers for information of value.


They help increase visibility in social media and search thereby saving time, effort and directing the attention of prospective customers.


Reach out to influencers to gain their trust, ensure alignment of values, goals and aspirations.


This is part of the personalization of business. Social media is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships with people. Use it to establish a relationship with influencers and raving fans.


Reach out to build trust through dialog.


Encourage and empower your employees to engage with influencers and raving fans. The more people within your firm that an influencer or raving fan has positive connections with, the more trust is gained.


Social influencers help attract visitors to your website.


You can track revenue by looking at referred social traffic and then seeing which ones convert to leads and sales.


Dell identifies an influencer as an individual, trendsetter or tastemaker with a signficant following among their target. Someone who's often quoted in the media. Someone who's statements result in action. A thought-leader in an industry vertical.


Dell works to:


  1. Identify influencers

  2. Engage with them at events so they have an in-person connection.

  3. Give them early access to products ("product seeding") as well as access to company executives.

  4. Maintain an ongoing relationship.

  5. Track the amount of advocacy the influencer provides over the course of the relationship.


Dell strives to have sufficient transparency for a customer to interact with the company on a personal versus corporate level by identifying the people within Dell who will be able to provide the most value to the customer.


Carly recommends engaging influencers from the outside in using customer feedback and from the inside out using influencer dialog.


The key is empowering employees to engage with influencers, customers and raving fans as real people rather than corporate spokespersons.


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, authenticity, be relevant, raving fans, referrals

Use Social Media to Enhance Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, May, 29, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

Use social media to enhance customer experiences








Thanks to John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, for the webinar, "How To Social Surround Your Prospects and Customers."


Marketing and sales have an hourglass relationship:


  • Marketing = Know --> Like --> Trust


  • Sales = Try --> Buy


  • Service = Repeat -- > Refer


The future of marketing is less about demand creation and more about organizing behavior around the seven steps.


The social surround principles of organizing behavior around the seven steps are:


  • Listening = prospecting

  • Teaching = presenting

  • Insights = information sharing

  • Storybuilding = nurturing

  • Network building = closing


Content X Connection = Perfect Customer Journey


Map the entire customer journey: markeitng, sales, enrollment, service, education, follow-up, billing/finance, resell/upsell to understand what content you need to provide in order to connect with the customer at each step.


Your content must be relevant to the prospect and provide information of value.


Identify content for every stage of the process:

  • Content powers connections: awareness, trust, education, engagement, conversion

  • Content builds awareness: blog posts, events, advertising, videos, ebooks, press releases

  • Content builds trust: answers to FAQs, how to's, reviews, testimonials, articles

  • Content builds engagement: referrals, reviews, video success stories, video testimonials

  • Content creates referrals: invites, co-branding, sponsored, curated, incented

  • You can also use other people's content: custom RSS feeds, republishing, sharing, retweeting, storify  and

John provided the elements of his content creation toolbox:

  • -- infographics

  • Screenflow/Camtasia -- screencasts

  • GoToWebinar/MeetingBurner -- webcasts

  • Skype/Call Recorder -- recorded interviews

  • Canva/Wordswag -- image editing

  • Wufoo/Survey Monkey -- custom surveys

  • -- transription

There are a number of tools to use during your social journey:

  • Collect: Hootsuite, Feedly, Talkwalker, Signals, Diigo

  • Curate: Pulse, Feedly,, Newsle

  • Create: Wordswag, Canva,,

  • Share: Hootsuite, Feedly, Buffer, Republist 

  • Engage: CRM, groups, Rapportive

Build a total content system around the keywords you are using to optimize and improve your SEO, traffic and leads.


Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

10 Reasons to Blog and Share Information of Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 19, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

blog to generate trust
  1. Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links (source: Content+).

  2. 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing (Content+).

  3. Companies that blog 15 times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don't blog (HubSpot).

  4. Companies with an active blog report 97% more leads (Content+).

  5. Content from reputable sources is the most shared (UCLA).

  6. 90% of users listen to recommendations shared from friends (Votier Digital).

  7. Interesting content is the #3 reason people follow brands on social media (Content+).

  8. 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles over ads (Content+).

  9. 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them (Custom Content Council).

  10. 60% of consumer feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site (Content+).


If you don't have a blog, start one.


Start by answering frequently asked questions from customers and prospects.


You'll generate more traffic, more leads, better SEO performance and, ultimately, more business.


If you need some help, let me know.


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media

4 Keys of Social Media and Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Apr, 21, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

4 keys to social media and customer experience







Great article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Magazine entitled, "4 Pillars of Responsible Customer Engagement."

The four pillars identified by Sarah Sluis are:

  1. Relevance

  2. Respect

  3. Credibility

  4. Value

These pillars are very consistent with my four rules for participating in social media which I've shared numerous times:

  1. Be relevant

  2. Be reliable

  3. Be responsive

  4. Be real 

  5. Or, be gone


I believe the two go hand-in-hand and you should be treating someone in social media the same way you're treating a customer -- with respect, honesty, transparency, all while providing value.


Relevance is understanding the person's needs and wants based on your knowledge of the individual and then providing information, products or services in which the person will find value.


Given how much we know about people today, particularly customers, it should be relatively easy to provide value.


Customers are giving a lot of information to companies with the knowledge and trust that these companies will use this information to provide more value. Fail to do this and you will lose your customers' trust.


Respect is treating others how we would like to be treated ourselves. Go above and beyond providing information of value or outstanding service. Don't waste people's time, do what you can to make their lives easier.


Empower your employees to provide information of value and outstanding customer service. Taking the time to teach them your company's vision, mission, values and strategic positioning will help your business and help your employees.


Recognize employees who go the extra mile in helping a prospect or a customer. Employees that do this are the future of your organization.


Remember, your employees will only treat your customers and clients as well as you treat your employees.


Credibility. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. This will earn your prospects' and customers' trust.


Hold your employees accountable to do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. This will stay with your employees the rest of their lives and help them be more trustworthy to themselves, their family, friends and employers.


Deliver on your brand promises. You do have brand promises don't you?


Provide value in everything you do and in everything you sell. The more value you provide, the more repeat business you will have from customers and their friends and family.


Loyal customers provide an annuity revenue stream for your business. Invest more in keeping current customers happy than in getting new customers.


I've recently heard about two companies who were hiring more sales people while neglecting to implement voice of the customer or customer retention programs.


A loyal customer is more valuable over time than a new customer.


It's easier to provide great customer service than it is to get a new customer.


Put customer satisfaction ahead of awareness and lead generation to build a more successful business.


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customer experience, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media