*Today I’m sharing a guest post from Lyn Hoyt of Berkeley Tandem, Inc.
We are designers and manufacturers of framed corporate recognition. With two locations in TN and NJ, we have been manufacturing and shipping our unique frame products to training facilities and HR departments’ worldwide since 1995. My name is Lyn Hoyt. Also known as @designtwit on twitter. I am the Director of Product Design and Marketing as well as a co-owner of Berkeley Tandem, Inc. We have two online stock product brands: fusionframes.com and awardcertificateframes.com. I am a social media advocate.
CASE STUDY- FUSION FRAMES:
OUR SLOW MOVE ONLINE & Discovery of Social Media
Each year the number of customers shopping online continues to increase. And our recognition business continues to grow despite the bad economy. Millennial and Gen Y are now moving into buyer positions with corporations and they immediately turn to the internet to research their award programs. And we are there. Search is king. So you must be online writing about your product and creating content about your product to be found in search. I saw that as ANY way to be online. In 2008 I started on twitter and discovered Social Media. Initially I was only there to create product content for search: industry term SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I was tweeting about corporate recognition, framing, and certificates. I was blogging about these same subjects too. And it was really rather dull.
But, slowly something happened – I realized social media was a direct connection to conversing with my customer and the industries I sell to. Rather than pushing my agenda I started making conversation. My content evolved as a reflection of my business and my personality creating an online persona that is influential and engaging. I wanted my experience to be the online cocktail party where I go to find HR people and talk shop.
Social Media is a platform to reach out in a different way. There are so many in marketing that immediately jump on the “Who can I sell to?” strategy. And admittedly I was there over a year ago blogging and on twitter. But, as I started engaging, building interest, and learning about my customer online things changed; communities formed, conversations started and relationships blossomed. And just like any relationship, social networking takes time and commitment. It is not and immediate pay-out.
“The more trust you build, the more value you release, and the more wealth you create.” Says Shoshana Zuboff in a Business Weekly viewpoint. When online networking evolves from “What can I sell you?” to “Who are you? What do you need? How can I help?”, things change. It may never get past “Who are you?” You may find out “what they need” is not what you offer. And help may come in the form of content generation or advice rather than “selling” your product. If you love what you do it is easy to generate content about it. It is easy to talk to others with similar interests. Let your connections find out about you. Learn from them. You are putting out content that relates to your audience and your subject. They search and find you. They link to you. You link to them. Influence and message reach spreads. Building relationships, networking, content mining result in qualified people interested in your expertise or your product.
It took me over a year to build up my twitter following to over 3,000 people. I have met incredibly smart, talented people in the industries I sell to and I have formed relationships with customers and non-customers alike. The biggest bonus is the reach beyond business to personal and professional development. This is how I became involved with this fantastic group of HR professionals online. They were studying me. I was studying them through the content we were creating and communicating on Twitter and on our blogs. We were (and still are) learning how Social Media shapes our industries. Even taking networking to the next step with in-person tweet-ups and un-conferences like HRevolution, hoping to educate and bring more mainstream HR online to find and create information of value and quality.
WE HAVE ONLY JUST STARTED TO UNDERSTAND
Social Media is rather new. It is a cutting edge tool. There are all kinds of 3rd party tools that help me manage this ever-growing segment on the Internet and on our cell phones. (Hootsuite.com is my top tool right now, helping me categorize and track followers by subject.) I am stumbling through trying to figure out how it fits into my business and personal life. It is not black and white and it evolves. I am human, with typos, spelling errors and personal commentary. It makes my personal brand real
People ask me how much time I spend on Social Media. It varies depending on what I read, how active my market is and what inspires me to write. But I spend at minimum 30 minutes a day. I could do it in 15. But, I am a people person so 15 can grow to 30 or even an hour. It is never in vain from a business point of view. It is personal selling. SEO is still of value to keep a high Google presence in organic search. It works well for small businesses because there are no barriers to putting a message out there or discovering online markets. The cost is in the value of my time.
My content continues to shape my business message and my personality gives it authenticity as a personal brand. Social Media is a slow, evolving experiment. And my goal is to still be there in a sustainable, almost pragmatic way that helps my business grow, helps me learn what my customer wants and helps me continue to discover this content-rich, people driven, ecommerce, electronic, virtual, digital frontier called the Internet.
“Who are you? What do you need? How can I help?” ~ Zuboff, Business Weekly
My blog: https://www.hrbaconhut.com