Specialize and Refer – Grow Your Network

How do you grow your network? That’s easy: specialize and refer. We all live off of word of mouth, if it’s not your specialty, refer. Right?

I was thinking of writing about this and then saw Rebecca Gill’s tweet. So this post came alive.

Why Specialize?

“Do one thing and do it well.”
“If everyone is your client, no one is.”
“Do it right or don’t do it at all.”

These are the clichés that make up business advice we all know. Okay, the last one was from my mom.

But the point is you can’t do everything – and do it well. Which reminds me of the ‘good-fast-cheap triangle’ tweet my friend Rachelle Wise just sent last week.

Thinking we can do everything is not only delusional, but distracts us from the things that really make us money. We’re in business for a reason, right?

If you’re a roofer, be a roofer. Go horizontal if you want, and do HVAC, but don’t start installing windows.

If you build websites, build sites. Go horizontal and make apps, but don’t start making videos.

Do what you know. Do what you can do well, efficiently, and make a profit.

How do you refer?

Knowing that we should refer and knowing how to refer are two different things. If you refer the right way, you’re still providing a valuable service to the client. It’s not losing business, it’s about being that go-to person, the expert, and the well-connected person.

If someone asks me if I do Facebook Advertising, I say,

“Sorry, John, I don’t do Facebook Ads, but my friend Jason at Thought House does.”

You can either give your client their contact information or write an email to them both. “John meet Jason. Jason meet John. John wants Facebook ads, I told him, you’re the best.”

This way, you’re making an introduction, and keeping your brand top of mind to all parties involved.

How do referrals grow my network?

Referrals work on the human emotions of trust and reciprocity. Firstly, by referring, I am extending my brand to another. I am saying, I trust this person, you can, too. So be careful about referring to people you don’t trust.

Secondly, if you send enough business someone’s way, they will also begin to refer you. That’s reciprocity. Heck, if you are just a nice person, your network will send people your way. I cannot even tell you how many dozens of people have sent others my way in the last four months.

Sometimes, they come in the form of public tweets. I have amazing and generous friends.

Do you refer, Bridget?

I absolutely refer. Firstly, I don’t build websites, I refer people to agencies. And I’ve even agreed to a partnership with Roy Sivan of ARC(CTRL).

I also don’t do Pinterest. I refer them to my very good friend Carol Stephen of Your Social Media Works. I don’t blog. I mean, I can, but I’d be way too expensive. So I refer clients to my friend Jen Miller of Need Someone To Blog. She has a system. She’s efficient. Guess what? She doesn’t do social. She sends me leads.

Do you see how it works?

Be serious about your brand and your focus. Kill the things that consume too much time. Specialize and refer the rest. You’ll never regret it.

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Twitter is the Best Platform for B2B Marketing: 5 Reasons Why

Twitter is the best platform for B2B marketing. It serves several marketing purposes including brand awareness, public relations, listening, content curation, and relationship building.

Watch the Video Here

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is high-level, less-tangible, and difficult to measure. It’s almost a word-association game. I say “tissue;” you say “Kleenex.” I say “photocopy;” you say “Xerox.” You want your brand to be able to be associated with your purpose. Recognition of the logo on Twitter because of your presence is a great way for a small business to compete with the bigger operations. The big guys rarely invest in social media.

Public Relations

You have news. People want to know it. Share Promotions, sales, new ventures, employees that join in, partnerships, case studies, etc. Write on your WordPress blog everything relevant to your audience and publish it on Twitter. Every brand has the ability to publish and gain influence and audience.

Listening

Listening is the most powerful thing you can do with Twitter. It’s so important to understand who you audience is and what they want, need, and how they think. This allows you to become a better communicator — meaning, you’re communicating in a way that resonates with them.

Using Twitter Lists to Listen allows you to:

  • Pain points.
  • Correcting personas.
  • Responding.
  • Engaging.
  • Focus Group.

Content Curation

Once you’ve built your lists you now have the tool in place to curate content. People often ask me what tools I use to curate content. I tell them that I’m a People Curator — a People Broker, I say.  I curate content by curating people. It really is that simple.

Relationship Building

All business happens because of referrals and word of mouth. Think of the last time you had a new client. How did you acquire them? Think of the last time you found a new service. Did you search for them online? Google? Yelp? Almost no one does business with a total stranger. Use Twitter to build relationships. You won’t regret it.

I went into depth on relationship building in a few of my talks, most recently at WordCamp Ottawa in July of 2016.


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Use Twitter Analytics to Know Your Audience

You blog. But do you know your audience? Do you use Twitter analytics? Do you know how long should your content be? What should the grade level be? Is your well-crafted persona even correct? Let’s look at Twitter’s Analytics to see what kind of information is there.

Too long to read? Watch the Video.

In episode 82 of WPblab, Jason Tucker and I went into detail with Twitter’s own analytics which can be found at analytics.twitter.com.

Audience, Audience, Audience

Influencers need an audience. Businesses need an audience. The truth is that we all have audiences. We all influence someone. With the age of social media, we’re all publishers now. But who is that audience — exactly?

Do you find your audience and write for them or write and then find your audience? Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Which came first: the chicken or the egg - the audience or the content? Click To Tweet

It doesn’t matter. You have the audience now. It is important to keep their attention.

Let’s Spitball Here

Let’s presume you know your audience. You’ve been using Twitter or a year or more. You have a blog. You’re publishing content.

Can you use Twitter’s analytics to help shape your content? Yes. And you should.

If you see that your audience is only 33% college educated, that should shape the types of words you use. Perhaps your content should be short form and not long. Check the readability score on Yoast’s SEO plugin or on HemingwayApp.com.

Test. Experiment. Try. Test again. Try.

I test the way I cook — it’s an experiment. It’s not formal. If someone likes it, I continue. If I hate it, I fix it. You can A/B test without heavily relying upon data.

I know what you’re thinking — that a post about analytics should be data centric. But what is data? Without context it means nothing. You can waste hours in Google Analytics or Twitter Analytics studying the wrong thing.

Brené Brown says “maybe stories are just data with a soul.

For example, 57% of my audience is interested in “fresh & healthy” lifestyle. That means I could experiment with writing about how I started using the Asana Rebel Yoga App and posting some of my Yoga photos from Instagram.

Yoga with @julie_freeindeed Dolphin, downward dog. #BridgetDoesYoga

A post shared by Bridget Willard (@bridgetmwillard) on

How will I know if it worked?

Traffic. Comments. (For example, after I started using Postmatic for email delivery and commenting, I’ve gotten a lot more comments. The comments encourage me to write more.) Comments also help give me ideas on what to write about.

You also might see those posts performing well in the Top Tweets of your Twitter Analytics.

How often should I look at Twitter’s Analytics?

I need gimmicks. So first, you need self-awareness. Then you need routine. I have Maintenance Mondays at my house. So I look at Twitter’s Analytics every Monday. For clients, I record data monthly in a Google Sheet. For myself, I go on intuition.

Start. What are you waiting for. You might be surprised.

What is branding and why does it matter to your business?

Branding has an allusive attraction — like a magic word a SEO professional will use that you know is important but don’t fully understand.

Not having a MBA in Marketing myself, I had often pondered this question as well.

What is branding?

Branding is listening to a thirty-year old Michael Jackson song on the radio and recognizing the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.

Branding is making a decision between using a restroom at a gas station or the restroom at a Starbucks.

Branding is being reminded of your beloved uncle when you smell pipe tobacco with a hint of cherry.

Is Branding A Logo?

Yes and no.

In many ways, branding is the connection of your sensual experiences. When I see a Diet Coke can, I become thirsty. Why? I remember the feel of a cold can in my hands, the sound the can makes when it pops open, the tickle down my throat, and the taste afterward. All of those memories are tied into the Diet Coke logo.

Human history is full of seals, rings, flags, coats of arms, and crests used to distinguish families, tribes, and nations. The human condition is curious; as much as we long for group acceptance, we still desire to be distinct and recognized.

Although the etymology of branding is varied, we can all imagine a rancher using a hot iron to brand his livestock. Each ranch had a distinct logo that made a permanent impression. Though originally intended to distinguish ownership, the logo reflected on the rancher, whether good or bad.

A Logo is Your Behavior

Your behavior as a company will be associated with your logo. In this regard, the branding is the logo and the logo is the brand.

In my presentation, “You Are What You Tweet,” I gave the example that the Caltrop logo had no meaning to me until I met one of their employees, Mark DeSio.

When you have a relationship with a person, the logo has meaning. Click To Tweet

In our day, branding makes a permanent impression, too. These impressions are based upon a person’s experience interacting with your company (brand) and there’s only so much of it you can control. With the introduction of social media, individual impressions gain a much greater audience.

“Every employee is your brand ambassador, your marketer, and the face of your company.” Scott Stratten: The Book of Business Awesome

Case in point. Twenty years ago I went to a pancake restaurant and there were cockroaches crawling on the table. Regardless of how many coupons they offer, how many all-you-can-eat pancake events they hold, I will never go to any of their restaurants again. That one experience made a lasting impression. Their advertising (branding) is no longer effective with me. My experience at their store made a permanent impression (branding).

Big brands, like Diet Coke, are often used as an example because we all recognize them, making the lesson relatable to a diverse audience.

How is online behavior branding?

The question always is: how will that translate for me and my business on social media?

It’s simple. Behave online the way you would want to be perceived. If you want people to think that you’re professional, behave professionally. If you want people to believe you do quality work, produce quality content.

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If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

I caught this article on outbound links and SEO in my Facebook feed. It instantly hit a nerve.

Can we just stop writing for SEO?

We have been so brainwashed about content – when we need to post, how often we should post, how we need to create it to show in searches that we have forgotten WHY we need to publish content.

Honest answer, please?

Why do you publish content on your blog? On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever your flavor of social media is today?

Too often the first answer is something to the effect of the “I need to be on the first page of Google” reason. The second is usually about showing up in feeds. Both are essentially the same reason – to be seen.  The problem with this approach?  The point of your content is to provide answers, information, something of value to the reader, not to get you noticed.

If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

Back in the day that meant cold calling, networking meetings, and after-hours business events. Today it means the same, only doing it via social platforms.

Get involved in groups, interact with the content of others. Make yourself visible. Give others a reason to WANT to read your content. Write it to provide value, show authority, to connect.  This way when they do seek out your content, they’ll read it, engage with it, and potentially share it. This game of creating and publishing content and focusing on getting it to show up is ineffective (Facebook’s whole reach thing).

As a salesperson with more than 30 years experience, I can tell you the best sales are when the customer buys, not when they are sold. From a content perspective, if you continue to try to shove content down your audience’s throats, they likely won’t read it, let alone convert. Drive them to WANT to read it and they will! They are also more likely to share it and to consume more of your content.

To be clear, I am not saying a piece of content showing at the top of page 1 in a Google search or a social feed will not convert. I’m pointing out that it’s not why we should be creating content or optimizing for as a priority.

All of my content is designed to provide value. Probably 90% of the content I publish has ‘SEO’ as an afterthought, if at all.

  • I write to provide value.
  • I write with the goal of keeping content moving and easy to read.

WHEN I get you to my content, you will read it.

Everything else is secondary. I know you chose to read my content and I know I provided value, you are more likely to comment on it, share it, link back to it or otherwise send signals, direct and indirect, to Google, that it should be ranked.

Search ranking is the indirect result of good content and social networking.

Write to answer questions, inform, educate, provide value. Network to drive views. The rest takes care of itself if you do these effectively. (FYI – this is the method I use for myself and clients to drive 20%+ reach and engagement levels on Facebook.)

Yes, you can optimize for SEO to your heart’s content and will likely show in SERPs. At that point, I need to ask, for all of your work, what is your CTR? Do people actually ‘click’ when you show in a search? Do you even know?

The same applies to social feeds. If you optimize for ‘reach’, is your content seeing engagement? Is it generating web traffic? Converting? Likely no…because the reader didn’t choose to see it, it was shown to them (simple human behavior – and yes, I know, there are ways to show it to them and get them to convert.

So about what started this little rant – outbound links and if they are good for SEO.

Here’s the thing. Many of the bits which are recommended for SEO optimization – all come down to good writing and presentation.

  1. Heading tags and small paragraphs – all about making it readable.
  2. Internal links – all about providing the reader with more related content.
  3. External links – all about citing sources, supporting claims, providing related content.

Remember those term papers we needed to write in high school and college? The elements above? They were required. Why? The reasons I listed. The teacher/professor needed to be able to read (and want to keep reading) what you wrote. They needed to know you understood the concept (authority). Outbound links provide you credibility. That credibility makes someone more inclined to share and link back.

Stop thinking in terms of SEO and start thinking in terms of your audience.

  • What does my audience want to read?
  • How will  I keep them reading until the end?
  • What will provide them the information they need?
  • How will I show my authority and understanding of the concept?]

Then go network. MAKE people want to learn more about you or your brand. Make them WANT to learn more and seek out your content.

SERPs and social feed ‘reach’ for your content is an indirect result of writing for your audience, which is a direct result of you creating its initial visibility through social interaction.

Next time you sit down to write, think in terms of your reader, not Google. Then go be social. Click To Tweet

Robert Nissenbaum is a speaker and you can find out more here.

What the H is a Branding Person?

Recently, I sat down with a new client for a branding consult. She came to me because her business coach said she needed it. But she said, “What the hell is a branding person?” Good Question. Let’s break it down.

What is branding?

You’re now entering the subjective zone. You’ll find as many answers to this question as you find branding consultants.

Although the etymology of branding is varied, we can all imagine a rancher using a hot iron to brand his livestock. Each ranch had a distinct logo that made a permanent impression. Though originally intended to distinguish ownership, the logo reflected on the rancher, whether good or bad.

In many ways, branding is the connection of your sensual experiences to your company. People remember how they feel about you (affinity) and that is reflected back on the brand in the form of loyalty — and buying power.

Branding is the persona your business has consisting of logo, colors, and reputation which all affect and reflect consumer affinity and loyalty. Click To Tweet

My good friend Robert Nissenbaum says,

“Branding is the practice of creating the look and ‘feel’ of your brand. Brand marketing is the practice of establishing your image, voice, and persona which identifies and differentiates you from your competitors.”

What is a branding person?

A branding person can be anything from a graphic designer who creates a brand standards document that has your logo, color palette, fonts, and usage, to a person or company who protects your reputation online. And that can range from brandyourself.com to identity protection.

If you need a brand standards document, I recommend the following people, Jayman Pandya, Chris Ford, and Cheryl & Sherie LaPrade (who created mine).

While venting on Facebook about needing to work on my elevator pitch I got a few suggestions. One of them was from Chris Lema.

“Hi I’m Bridget Willard and I help companies with their online brand and reputation management by taking care of both social media monitoring and posting. I help your online brand by reinforcing your differentiated value on the social channels that are right for your business and your prospects.”

Sarah Pressler wrote: “Listen, I create magic. There’s no other way to put it.”

To me, a branding person is someone who understands the voice and tonality that you would like to project to the public. A branding person emulates that voice, replicates that voice, and protects it.

A branding person may even be a guide to your own self-awareness, helping you figure out what really is important to you and what values you’d like to elevate.

A branding person helps your business find its voice to harness your power, to elevate your brand. It's that simple. Click To Tweet

Why do you need a branding consultant?

A branding person is more like a counselor in my view. Their job is to help you dig out of your person the essence of your passion. You’re too close. You’ve talked to too many of your friends. You have lost objectivity. You may have lost focus.

This is why many business coaches suggest meeting with a branding person. A brand is a persona — an organic, living thing. It needs life. A branding person gives your persona life. And life needs to be protected.

A branding person helps you find yourself in the brand. It's very similar to a counselor. Click To Tweet

Can’t you just wing it?

You can. But you’ll fail and in a hard way.

People who wing it, without boundaries, are likely to fall prey to trending hashtags. They are easily distracted by the lure of humor. Not to mention starting endless projects that are so scattered that the company lacks focus — inwardly and outwardly.


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Learning Twitter: Lesson 10 Using Hootsuite with Lists

Learning Twitter can be overwhelming. But, as with any task, breaking it down into smaller parts helps considerably. This is the final lesson of my ten-part series.

In less than five minutes, I show you how to use Hootsuite with your lists. (I use Hootsuite Pro and this is my affiliate link.)

What you need:

  • Twitter Lists
  • Twitter Client

About Twitter Lists

You create and edit lists on Twitter. Think of parallel industries, keywords, geolocation, and/or categories and topics.

Lists can be public or private. The names of your public list are visible and users can subscribe to your public lists.  When you list someone, they are notified of the list you added them to. Be careful how you name them. I recommend using keyword-type names. I don’t use private lists. I have more detail on the how and why of lists in this blog post.

More: Twitter Help Center:  Using Twitter Lists

About Twitter Clients

A Twitter client allows you to do more with Twitter. You can use any kind of Twitter Client like TweetDeck, but I prefer HootsuitePro because the columns you setup are the same on desktop or mobile. Once your lists are created, you can import the feed in a column, to make it easier.

For In-Depth Tutorials See:

Don’t forget to have fun!

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Twitter Lessons: Lesson 9 Twitter Chats

Learning Twitter can be overwhelming. But, as with any task, breaking it down into smaller parts helps considerably. This is lesson nine in a ten-part series.

In less than five minutes, I show you how join a Twitter chat.

Why join a Twitter chat?

Many people start their Twitter accounts and build a small community, interacting as time allows, and that’s great. I’m a huge advocate for Twitter as you can tell by the quantity of posts I’ve written. Your Twitter use can exist without a chat, but the chat is more rewarding.

Small bursts of conversation on Twitter is fun but unfocused. If your time is limited and you want to make a big impact during one hour a week, joining a Twitter chat is the way to go.

Each chat revolves around a topic which makes the interaction both focused and engaging — allowing you to shine as a thought leader. If joining a Twitter chat is Twitter 301, hosting one is Twitter 401. It’s definitely advanced and a bit more complicated. Though, for me, it reminds me of AOL chat rooms in the 90’s.

Twitter chats are exciting because they are live, sometimes the answers are even controversial.

Even better, you discover people who are engaged and active on Twitter. Meeting people is never a bad thing.

How do you find a chat?

You can go to Twubs  to search for hashtags. TweetChat is my favorite chat client.

The easiest way to find a chat, I’ve found, is through one of your trusted followers. Twitter chats are full of friendly and welcoming people.

Buffer has great advice about chats, too. So check that out if you want more depth.

Don’t forget to have fun!

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