Social Graces

Interview With Social Media Expert Marki Lemons-Ryhal

Marki Lemons-RyhalSocial media is a rapidly changing marketing avenue for companies today. Here, Counselor goes one-on-one with an expert to find out what works in social media marketing today – and what doesn’t.

Marki Lemons-Ryhal has one simple belief: Get involved.

It can apply to many things in business, but for her, it’s particularly relevant to how small businesses approach social media today. “You need to jump in there, whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or LinkedIn,” says Lemons-Ryhal, owner of social media marketing consulting firm Marki Lemons Unlimited. “Whatever the venue, you have to be there because that’s where your customers are and where your buyers will increasingly look for information and guidance. It’s too much of a good opportunity to pass up right now.”

Lemons-Ryhal believes that marketers need to adjust their mindsets so that they’re appealing to their clients and prospects where and when they’re ready to be targeted. “No one leaves home without their mobile device, and they all have apps on them, usually some type of connection to at least one social media site,” she says. “When it comes to social media technology, it’s not about selling. It’s about listening and providing people what they need when they need it.”

Here, we probe deeper with Lemons-Ryhal to find out what distributors need to do to be successful with their social media marketing efforts.

Counselor: So many small-business owners and leaders espouse the need to always be selling. How does social media fit into this?
Lemons-Ryhal: Well, if you’re the person that just wants to sell most of the time, one thing to keep in mind is no one leaves home without their mobile device, and they all have apps on them, usually some type of connection to at least one social media site. The beautiful thing about social media and technology is that it allows you to listen to conversations no matter. So, if you’re selling, one of the best ways to sell is to know who needs what and when they need it.

Counselor: Is the effort more of a fact-finding mission about potential customers?
Lemons-Ryhal: It can be. People tell you what they need without directly telling you. So, an example would be if you’re working in the wedding industry and people are talking about just getting engaged, that means that soon they’re going to need what? Your promotional products. If someone was in the baby business, as soon as someone says they’re pregnant, in nine months they’re also going to need your products. So when it comes to social media technology, it’s not about selling, it’s about listening and providing people what they need when they need it.

Counselor: What is at the heart of an effective social media strategy for business?
Lemons-Ryhal: The heart of it is search engine optimization. You want people to find you, and social can help distributors engage with their clients and drive them to their websites and find them through Google. That’s where buyers are today, and you need to do everything you can to target them there. Social is a great tool to add to your marketing toolbox to get people to find your website.

Counselor: How about Facebook? It seems like it’s not a great place for businesses right now. Do you see it otherwise?
Lemons-Ryhal: I do, because there are great analytical tools in Facebook that can provide data on clients and potential customers. You can go onto Facebook and look at friends who like other people’s business pages and then you can set up what is a retargeting pixel. That means that if you go to my website or you go to one of my landing pages, when you come back to Facebook, you’re going to see my ad. And so I love Facebook because the analytics inside of it are absolutely phenomenal and it has targeting capabilities that other social networks don’t necessarily have.

Counselor: Interesting. It seems like there’s a lot of data distributors can glean from their time on social media.
Lemons-Ryhal: Absolutely. I can look at my competition’s business page and find out who’s liking their page, who’s engaged him with their page, how often they engage. I can also look at the content of my biggest competitors and find out information about what they’re promoting right now. Plus, if you’re using the retargeting pixel tool, then you would know exactly everybody you’re targeting and know what pages they like and how you can attract them.

Counselor: Where do you find the retargeting pixel tool?
Lemons-Ryhal: You have to go into the ad area and be ready to spend a little bit of money for your company’s Facebook page. It doesn’t have to be much. For example, I recently ran an ad on Facebook for an event I’m doing and it quickly let me know that 316 people watched the video I promoted and I spent $5 for the ad to run 24 hours.

Counselor: That’s pretty good ROI right there.
Lemons-Ryhal: And it breaks down to demographics and everything – who looked at that video, when they watched the video, how long they viewed it for and more.

Counselor: Let’s move on to LinkedIn. What can businesspeople do today to maximize their use of LinkedIn?
Lemons-Ryhal: LinkedIn is heavy on search engine optimization and keywords, so you should learn the words and phrases that work for your audience. But, what we don’t often do is we’re not posting consistently and we’re not tagging other businesses within our posts on LinkedIn. This is an opportunity too many people miss out on when it comes to LinkedIn. So, if you work with pharmaceutical companies, you could post a great new product or service that meets their needs and you could tag Pfizer and other big players in the market in your post. I would also tag people who I might know in that industry about the benefits of promotional products.

Counselor: What does the tagging of others do in LinkedIn?
Lemons-Ryhal: It means your post will come up in their LinkedIn stream and they can also then decide if they want to re-share that content. People know once they’re tagged – it comes up as a notification to them.

Counselor: Is there a cost to that?
Lemons-Ryhal: I use the free version of LinkedIn because I don’t believe that people maximize the free version. One thing that people don’t do is they don’t use the publishing platform to publish a blog. And they could actually repurpose their own blog content on LinkedIn. And so everything I do is on the free version of LinkedIn.

Counselor: How about Twitter? What approaches work best for businesses on Twitter?
Lemons-Ryhal: Twitter’s real value is the information you can glean about your clients or potential clients. I actually listen to different streams of conversation on Twitter. It’s probably the easiest of the social networking sites to listen to conversations. So, I’m listening to anything that comes up with ASI because I speak at the shows and want to know what that audience is looking for. I can listen either to you, every tweet you have, or if you have a special hashtag or event I could listen for that hashtag. You want to follow people, companies and hashtags specific to your market or client base. What I also like about Twitter is the ability to load wall photos, which very few people do. I recommend when on Twitter, you want to maximize and use wall photos, and you can tag up to 10 people in that tweet and it doesn’t go over your character count.

Counselor: It would seem like you’d also want to directly engage with your clients on Twitter.
Lemons-Ryhal: No doubt, that’s exactly what you want to do. Number one: You have to reply when they interact with you. That’s the biggest mistake people make who don’t put enough time into social media. If a client reaches out to you for anything, you need to reply and provide valuable information.

Counselor: Are there other ways businesspeople should interact with customers on Twitter?
Lemons-Ryhal: We used to live in a world of six degrees of separation. On Twitter, there aren’t six degrees of separation. I can tap anybody on the shoulder and have a potential dialogue with them on Twitter and you can expand that with direct messaging. That conversation can then be taken into your preferred method of communication and it doesn’t have to stay on Twitter. It all starts with providing intriguing content and using that to attract people’s attention. Then you’ll be able to engage with them.

Counselor: So, what kind of content does tend to work on social media these days?
Lemons-Ryhal: Images work great, and the promotional products space is so based on products and images, so it can work really well. In the promotional products field, you can show behind the scenes, product and imprinting processes. And you could show images and videos from recent campaigns that your customers have used promotional products for. The best thing is to give clients on social media ideas for how they can also use promotional items in their marketing. Take photos at every event, and post them onto every social network possible. Tell a story for how the items can help other businesses. That’s what will help you engage an audience on social media – and, really, that’s the goal.

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