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Douglas Goldstein
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Douglas Goldstein, married, father of four, is the owner and director of Profile Investment Services (www.profile-financial.com). He is the co-author of the book "Rich As a King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing," and blogs on www.richasaking.com on how... More
My company:
Profile Investment Services, Ltd.
My blog:
Gain perspective. Your investments.Your future.
My book:
Building Wealth in Israel: A Guide to International Investments and Financial Planning
  • How To Sell Your Business In The Social Media World 0 comments
    Apr 8, 2014 8:37 AM

    In today's growing world of social media, there are so many ways to market your business, from Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Pinterest. Which do you choose, and how can you maximize your business' s online potential?

    i recently asked Jim Tobin, the president of Ignite Social Media and author of a fascinating book called Earn It, Don't Buy it: The CMOs Guide to Social Media Marketing in a Post Facebook World.

    Douglas Goldstein: Are we really in a post-Facebook world?

    Jim Tobin: Not quite. I think the people at Facebook making their $6 or $7 billion right now would perhaps suggest I'm premature with that. But I think we are in a place where Facebook is showing signs of creaking. I think everybody could agree with that.

    Douglas Goldstein: What is it that people should be looking at in the world of social media?

    Jim Tobin: The main point of a post Facebook world is there was a period that lasted for about 18 months to two years where you could reach a maximum demographic effectively on Facebook. We waited a while for the older generation to get on Facebook, and shortly after they got there, the younger people left. My children don't go on Facebook hardly ever. They are 15 and 13 and they use things like Snapchat and Twitter a lot, and they use Instagram, but they are really spreading out. So what I think we're beginning to see is a fragmentation in the social media world where to really reach a complete range of demographics, you're going to need to rely on more than just Facebook.

    Douglas Goldstein: In our marketing meetings, we often talk about the best way to connect with our audience, and probably every few months when we have one of these meetings, someone says, "Yeah but there's now this new thing and people are doing and people are doing that." It's impossible for any company to keep up. Is it better to try and constantly keep up or to stick with what you know?

    Jim Tobin: The main thing is to set your strategy, because really your strategy shouldn't change. What are you trying to accomplish? How would you even know if you'd accomplished it, whether that's in building brand reputations, running traffic to your website, or whatever it is? If you set those things, it's easier to filter these new tools within the parameters of your strategy.

    So you might hear about Snapchat and Pinterest, and if you're a company making a lot of consumer products, should you be on Snapchat or Pinterest? If you're measuring success by driving traffic to your website, this suggests Pinterest, where you can pin concepts from your website. Then, when people who are on Pinterest look for inspiration on products to buy, crafts to make, those sort of things would be much more effective than Snapchat, which is a way of sending a message from one person to another, or one person to a small group that then disappears.

    So if you know what you're trying to accomplish and how you're going to be successful, some of the noise filters itself out for you. Others may not have gotten big enough to worry about it. If somebody is always going to be going to be doing something neat on Snapchat, or Tumblr, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or Whatsapp or what the latest news of the day is, that's fine for them to experiment. For most of us, we don't need to experiment on everything. We need to keep our head up and that's what we're trying to do, and when things get to a certain maturity, maybe they factor into our plans.

    Douglas Goldstein: It sounds almost like in the pre-internet world, when companies would try to decide where to advertise, and they would say, "Should I advertise on the radio or on TV? If I'm going to advertise on TV, which show or in which magazine should I place my ad?" It seems to be getting to that level of fragmentation. Is that a good parallel?

    Jim Tobin: It is a good parallel, and it's extremely difficult to reach people in part because the internet and social media aren't really well-built for interrupting people. Our television is with preset commercials, our radio is with commercials, but social media has a lot of platforms. You have to opt in to follow some on Twitter and opt in to mostly follow them on Facebook. You can buy some ads, but it's challenging. So the level of scrutiny of where to place your investment, particularly if you're trying to get organic or earned coverage, means you do something interesting enough that people talk about themselves. You really need to make sure you do enough on a particular channel or down a particular path where you give it time to be noticed.

    Douglas Goldstein: There are some companies that are exceptionally strong at presenting their message, and they have been that way forever, and there are some companies that are weak in that area. You talk a lot in your book about this whole concept of messaging. You say the medium is not the message, the message is the message. As an investment advisor, how can I find companies who really are able to create the message and sustain it over the long term?

    Jim Tobin: Red Bull does a fantastic job of getting attention in the social media, and that's because they realized what they're selling. Like Coke years ago, they realized they are not selling sugar water. Red Bull is selling adventure and because they know that, because they understand it, they do a fantastic job of coming up with adventurous things to associate with, the most famous being the jump from space, but this goes to a lot of other brands.

    Our first real client back in 2007 was Nature Made, a large vitamin company in the United States, and we had to figure out, why anyone would care about a vitamin company. You don't tweet, "Took my vitamin C again today," so why would you follow or friend or care about content from a vitamin company? When we looked at it on a higher level, we realized that these people spend an extra $2 per bottle over the house brand. So why do they do that? Well, it's because they care about healthy living, they care about the quality they present with their family. If we could talk about family and health and diet and getting most out of life by being active, that was good brand building for Nature Made, and it appealed to the same people willing to spend the extra $2 a bottle to get that quality.

    Douglas Goldstein: What do you see as the direction that social media is going towards now?

    Jim Tobin: A lot of it is going to shifting toward paid. So Facebook made $6 billion last year, Twitter is supposed to make a billion dollars this year, and their click-through rates are deplorable and they're worse than banner ads. They promise us all that their ads would do better, because they know us so well that they would serve up ads that were better, but they just don't, and 99.96% people don't click on these ads, but we give them more and more money. It's not that we should never advertise on Facebook. It's that we should put much more of our money into figuring out who cares about our vitamin company or our energy drink, or whatever the brand is, and how we can get them excited about the space that we are in and how we can accrue brand value to that.

    Because the research we have with our clients shows that if somebody sees the content we call organically, meaning we didn't pay for it to get exposed to them, they take measurably better shopping actions than people who saw the same content promoted to them. So they are more likely to visit a website, three times more likely to visit a website, if they see it organically than if they see it paid. They visit three times more pages if they see it organically than if they visit after seeing a paid update, and they are much more likely to search in Google or Bing for those companies' search terms.

    Douglas Goldstein: When you say to find a company organically, do you simply mean finding that in a Google search or Bing search?

    Jim Tobin: Finding the content that you've created in your Facebook feed ,or finding an influence that is working on writing a column about your product, or your friend enters a contest and tells you about the brand as a result. Those sorts of ways of getting people to market for you to talk about you, to opt in to receiving your updates without you having to pay for them, those sorts of exposures really do get people interested in buying. I can give a quick example of that, and why it's so logical to me.

    Beyonce released her album that no one know she was doing at midnight on a Tuesday. She just announced in little update on social media that she had a surprise new album that was out. That was all she did. She did not spend a nickel on advertising, and it spread like wildfire. She became the number one selling album.

    That's totally logical to me because if you hear this, if you're the customer, you feel like you discovered Beyonce has a secret album that you have to tell people about. "Hey, I just heard Beyonce has a secret album." If that ad comes in front of you, you may be interested in it, maybe you'll buy the album, but you're not going to tell everybody because there's an ad telling everybody. You didn't discover it, so the momentum goes away. It's the same thing we're doing over and over again to get people excited to voluntarily talk about our product, our brand, and our industry.

    Douglas Goldstein: For smaller companies, one of the things that people often hear is that the way the internet is going today, content is king, and if you just produce a lot of quality content, the search engines are really trying to develop algorithms to help the good content flow to the top and get found more easily. Do you think that's true or is it really ultimately about trying to manipulate the social media networks?

    Jim Tobin: I think it's true as far as it goes. One of the challenges in thinking about it as only content is that people get their blinders on and they don't try to activate their fan bases. And so there's no point of having fans and followers if you can't activate them, and that might mean as simple as rating your content. It might mean sharing your content, liking it, commenting, but it also means getting them to your website. It also means getting them to maybe sign up for your email and getting them to buy something. Those are the things we need to do and if we only try to produce really interesting content, we're missing out on the other part, which is how can we get our followers to market for us? That's something that people have to think about as well.

    Great content often spreads, but if we just think about the content and not how or why would somebody share it, we miss out on a big portion of social media marketing.

    Douglas Goldstein: If you were giving advice to a small to medium sized company that's trying to make its way in the social media world today, and is having to make a decision where to really plant some seeds, where do you think you would advise?

    Jim Tobin: I would start with how do you sell and to whom. We started this company with three people. We have 110 now, and we knew that to buy a social media agency and to hire a social media agency, you will do a search on Google 99% of the time. So we don't have a fantastic Facebook page, even though we do this for a living for big brands. We have a fantastic blog, and we have incredible search engine optimization because of that blog. So focusing on, "How does somebody going to find me when they are in a buying mood, and what can I do amplify that?" is the best way to narrow down all these hundreds of things you can do to the things you need to do make more money.

    Douglas Goldstein: To the people who are planning to get into the social media world is to try to think about their ultimate client, what the client is going to do when he needs to find my business, and that's the place to set up shop?

    Jim Tobin: That's the place to start, and then building your brand. If you're in the space of financial planner, there's a lot of personal branding involved. The production of content or promotions or materials to drive traffic into a website, for example, is part one, but then the people who come to that website have to conclude the real deal. You're the quality thought leader in the space, and so it's not just [tricks] that a lot of companies are using - 12 ways to build your portfolio - but the article is really bad. That wouldn't behoove somebody in a financial planning space, because you have to win not just the traffic, but credibility along the way.

    Douglas Goldstein: How can people follow your work?

    Jim Tobin: If you're interested, you can go to www.ignitesocialmedia.com and take a look at there or follow us on Twitter @IgniteSMA.

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