Jason Falls is a leading digital strategist, author, speaker and thinker in the digital and social media marketing industry. He leads digital strategy for CafePress, a publicly-traded internet retailer consistently ranked as one of the top online shopping destinations. He also continues to serve as founder and chief instigator at SocialMediaExplorer.com, an industry-leading blog and digital marketing agency.
Jason will be speaking at the Integrated Print Forum in May, and he recently talked with us about social media, marketing, and what attendees can expect from his session.
What’s the best way for a business with an e-commerce outlet to use social platforms to drive traffic to the site?
Draw your audience in with interesting, engaging posts including stories, photos, and questions that encompass your particular worldview. Then occasionally give them a benefit (a deal) for being connected there.
The real answer, though, will vary by industry, audience, competitive marketplace, and more. What works for CafePress won’t work for some of you. What works for you won’t work for a business similar to yours and so on. You have to test and iterate within your environment to see what works best for your business.
Specifically, I’ve seen e-commerce businesses do quite well with sharing imagery of products that links back to the product page. But that’s boring and very brand-centric. I’ve seen businesses do better by generating content that delivers an audience-centric focus (helpful tips, entertaining articles, initiates discussion on industry topics) to draw in those they’re trying to reach, then ensuring that for every 4-5 posts that engage, they offer one that rewards the audience with an offer, coupon, or free item.
What do you say to small/medium business owners who claim there is no time for social media interaction?
They may not be wrong. But they will eventually lose out to their competition. Social media fuels both search engines and word-of-mouth advertising in interesting and powerful ways. So if you don’t have time for social, you’re eventually going to lose out on the primary mechanisms—search engines and word of mouth—that customers use to decide to buy from you.
Does it make sense for a small-business owner to personally spend time on social media interaction? What about if the company has a dedicated person whose job it is to manage the company’s social interaction?
It depends on the person, the time commitment, and more. If the owner isn’t good with people and can’t communicate well, please stay away from social media. You’ll hurt more than help. The best bet is to have someone to interact on social channels on your company’s behalf who is as close to the bone as possible. Sure, you can use an agency or consultant, but do they know your business as well as your full-time staff? Your co-owner? You? You’ll need to weigh the options and either have someone on your team learn social or someone on a social team learn your business.
It’s no different than having a public relations or advertising account person you may have used in the past. The more familiar they are with who you are, how you operate, what your goals are, and the like, the easier it is for them to do a great job for you.
Are there ways for companies, like printing firms, to directly sell via social?
Sure there are. Let’s say you get most of your business from professional services (lawyers, accountants, ad agencies, etc.). If your Facebook or LinkedIn or even Twitter content is hyper-focused on giving professional services providers useful tips on business, time management, etc., you’ll attract a number of those types to your content. Once they come, if you mix in a coupon code or offer on a new product, a portion of that audience will redeem that.
Considering the graphic nature of the platform, is Instagram a good way for printers to gain social media attention?
It certainly can be. The challenge will be connecting with and providing compelling images to the type of buyer you have. Instagram users don’t want to see pictures of the latest flyer or brochure you printed. They might have some interest in seeing innovative print techniques, special projects, etc., but the challenge for most brands using Instagram is coming up with pictures that don’t scream, “Me! Me! Me!” Give the audience what they want to see. Hopefully, you can find something that has a connection to your brand.
Anything else that you’d like to share about your upcoming presentation at the Integrated Print Forum?
The presentation will be almost completely new. I’m putting a fresh set of eyes on this problem after working with dozens of clients, writing two books, and writing about social marketing successes for quite some time. My goal is to be useful. I’m confident we’ll all come out with some new learning.
Thanks Jason, we’re looking forward to your session at IPF!