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Grow Socially's John Foley on social media for printers

Published on May 3, 2011

John Foley of Grow Socially is back with Cary Sherbrune this week to talk social media as it relates to printers. John also offers his advice on best social media practices and it all starts with a plan.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I’m here with John Foley who is CEO of Grow Socially. You’re an animal on social media.

John Foley: I don’t know if I’d call myself an animal, but thanks for having me, Cary. And yeah, I mean, I see some great adoption here in the print industry in regards to social media and how it can be integrated into the channels that they produce today.

Cary: And I think it’s still a little bit of a struggle for people. Maybe you can share with us some of the best practices that you’ve seen out there with folks and what are some of the tools that are available to help them get started because you know as well as I do that many, many printers, I mean, the operational stress of just getting the day-to-day work out is like horrendous. And so to add this extra thing on is, you know, they don’t have time or they don’t have time to do it consistently, which you have to do. So what are some of the best practices that you’re seeing and how can, you know, how can people use other tools to help them?

John: If there’s any advice that I could give to any service provider, any print service provider, marketing service provider, whatever that term is you want to use is, is you’ve got to have a plan. And this is really no different than a discussion that I would have if you brought me into speak on marketing basics. We have to have a plan; we have to have a strategy. Best practices is not to do the tactical thing first. Oh let’s create a Facebook page. And you know, most, nine out of ten times when I get the call, the CEO is going, you know, this isn’t working. You know, what’s all the social media thing? And that ‘cause there was no strategy. And you know, when should you post and how should you post and what content. Best practices, you know, not to talk about yourself all day. And folks struggle with, well what does that mean? Where can I get content that is relevant? And you know, content is king in this environment and content is king everywhere, but you know, in this environment, they struggle where they can get that content. And it really can be sharing other people’s information that’s relevant to the target audience.

So that’s a, you know, right off the bat, is to make sure you have a strategy and a plan and then execute consistently. I mean, I know you’ve seen the sites where you go to them and someone… no one’s updated their Facebook page in six weeks. And if we were to sit here for half an hour to talk about the strategy and search engine optimization, social media is so instrumental in helping that organic search. If you stop then, you’re not helping your own cause there it is a webpage where people can find you. So…

Cary: Now, one of the things that I’ve done is I’ve implemented, or I use Tweet Deck and other people choose Hoops, I think you use Hoot Suite, right.

John: Yeah, Hoot Suite, Tweet Decks, you know, I’m… there’s all kinds of tools, there’s a new one, I just saw it yesterday, I’m sorry I forgot the name. But yes, those are good tools to be able to manage multiple sites. You know, but you still have to populate them and what time do we need to post, right. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll tell a quick story. I was told a story about when to post if you were trying to reach my two teenaged boys. And because I’m trying to get them to understand the relevance of timing and you know, when would you post these things. And they go to school every day, so yes, they could read it in their Facebook feed, but it would be more optimal maybe if it popped up while they were on Facebook after school, before school or before they go to bed or in the later evening.

So the same thing to our target audience. You know, today I think most professionals get on early, when they first start, maybe even before they go to get to the office, lunchtime, and then after work at the end of the day and then in the evening. So maybe that’s when, depending on the target demographic that you’re trying to reach in social networks, maybe that’s something you want to look at.

Cary: You know, it’s no different than how people used to think about when to put a certain TV commercial on. Right?

John: Right, right. Oh yeah. You know, it’s funny, we talk about these different, this is really another channel to me and then these medias, you know, Facebook or whatever in that it really is just an evolution of another way to reach your target demographics…

Cary: Yeah, yeah and so… 

John: and target audience.

Cary: in terms of finding content to share, I mean, do you have some suggestions for people about how to do that because you can’t just like Tweet out every day, oh 50% off on flyers or get your business cards here.. That doesn’t… I mean, you can do that, but that’s not a core...

John: Well a lot of times I ask them to you know, look inside. And if you have a print source provider that puts out a monthly newsletter or maybe a magazine, all that content is right there and it could be information on, maybe it’s best practices on one-to-one marketing, maybe it’s personalized print, maybe you know, and it’s a white paper or it’s an e-book or whatever. They could start there. Now, on top of that, I always like to talk about you know, target marketing as a magazine, is that information relevant to the people that I help and service in my community? If it is, then maybe I can share that information. And what we suggest is you build a matrix of where can I get this content and then when am I going to post it.

Cary: You know, one of the things that I really find helpful is just, you know, being pretty selective about who I follow on Twitter because you don’t want a lot of junk. I mean, I go through and clean it up periodically, but I don’t get a lot of junk. I get a lot of great… I mean, people are sharing a lot of great links and a lot of great ideas and…

John: Well there’s some are… I mean, yeah, I’m on social media all the time, but there’s so much information online. If you want to learn about a subject right away and go on Twitter and find that information or you can find it maybe in LinkedIn for sure if you’re trying to research a company or it’s… the information is right at your fingertips and it’s fast. I mean, we see this, unfortunately, in these tragedies, but what with Japan as an example, but when someone is on with a feed on the street right there, there isn’t a reporter that can beat them there, if they’re on Twitter sharing that information. And that just… it just, the speed of information is just, you know, so much faster.

Cary: The other thing that I know, ‘cause I’m not as advanced at this as you are, but I start… you know, when you start thinking about hash tags, so for example, I was recently at an HP event and they set up a hash tag at the event. So you’re including that as you’re tweeting about what’s going on at the event. And then that gets you to a whole other set of people that wasn’t even following you in the first place. They see you there and then after… any time I do that I end up with five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten more people following me.

John: Well I have actually customers here today that I did not know was here, that was going to be here and because they saw me check in, I actually use Four Square or a Facebook place, they saw me check in on Four Square. They said, “Hey, I’m here too,” so I’ll meet them today.

Cary: That’s great. 

John: I mean how great is that where, you know, we have many customers, so it’s hard for me to get out there, but now I know that they’re here I’ll reach out and see them. The fun part today was no one had set up in Four Square, which is a social media application, a destination spot here. So I set it up, I checked in yesterday, I checked in today and now I’m the mayor of On Demand Expo.

Cary: Oh that’s great!

John: And that’s really, you know, just another tool that I can use in marketing, whatever say, you know, look, I’m here. I’m doing the things that I said you should try to do yourself to expose your business and you know, promote it using social media.

Cary: Yeah, a lot of great advice. Thank you.

John: Thank you very much. It’s good to see you.

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