SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 47, November 25, 2010

How Blogging and Social Media Can Help Your Business Survive and Thrive

  blogging
  Use blogs to build brand loyalty and trust. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools in creating a successful business venture.

You don’t have to be a geek or techie to understand social media; all you need is a passion for your job, according to Rick Calvert, CEO and co-founder of BlogWorld and New Media Expo, who hosted the SEMA webinar entitled, “Connect With Customers on Blogs: What You Need to Know.”

“During the 2000 presidential elections, bloggers who were just as passionate about the news and politics as I was were having these amazing discussions online,” Calvert said. “The same thing happened after the events of 9/11 and for about five years, I spent several hours a day reading and commenting on blogs.”

Calvert’s epiphany hit him one day when he was stuck in traffic on his way home from work while listening to a news program on the radio. The host said something that made him call into the show, and at the end of the conversation, the host suggested that Calvert should start his own blog. Calvert went home that night and within five minutes he did just that.

“It was that easy; anyone can do it,” Calvert said. “I started contacting other bloggers whom I liked and respected and asked them for some advice, and not only did they contact me back, but they also linked to my blog. Over time, more people started contacting me, and companies wanted to advertise on my blog. I was surprised to learn a blogging tradeshow didn’t exist. So in 2006, BlogWorld was born, and in 2007, we hosted our first show with 1,500 attendees. This year, our show will have more than 4,000 attendees with a combined audience of more than 250 million people.”

The Social Media Explosion

Social media is the simultaneous reinvention of radios, newspapers, magazines, televisions, movies and books. Social media grows exponentially faster because it’s all of these mediums combined.

“It’s a fundamental shift in the way people communicate with each other, and our business practices have to change in order to keep up with this shift,” Calvert said.

Facebook has more than 300 million users today, which is larger than the total population of the United States, and tops Google with the most weekly traffic, according to Calvert. In contrast, it took radio 38 years to get to 50 million users. Ninety-six percent of millennials have joined a social network.

Engage Yourself

If you’re worried about starting a blog because people will say bad things about you, if you have a terrible product, they’re already saying bad things about you. The best strategy is to be engaged. Have a blog, be on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, where people are having discussions about your company, products and industry and engage in that conversation. If you have a great product, people will say nice things about you. Before blogs and social media, if a customer had a good experience, they might write you a letter of thanks, but this was always a one-on-one experience where no one else could see it. When this happens via social media, everyone sees what that customer says about you and how you respond to that customer.

“If you have a bad product, social media can’t save you,” Calvert said, “but if you have a great product, if you treat your customers well and you are passionate about what you do, social media is the best friend you will ever have because everyone will know how great your product is and how you interact with your customers.”

Bloggers are like guitar players, according to Calvert. Almost all of us have played a musical instrument at some point in our lives. Most people aren’t very good at it; they get frustrated and quit over time. These people are at the bottom of the pyramid. Then there are people who keep playing, and they get better. They play in a garage band with their friends or for some extra money at weddings. There are also people who make a living out of it. Las Vegas is a great example of this; the place is full of musicians who play for a living, but they aren’t famous. At the top of the pyramid are those most-influential musicians who are rock stars. Likewise, some bloggers are real journalists; it’s what they do every day. Others are rock-star journalists who have their own fan base.

Drive Traffic to Your Blog

For companies just starting out and introducing a new product, to get your name out there, start a blog that talks about the problems your product solves. Reach out to people individually to tell them you just started and ask for their feedback. It takes time, but slowly build relationships with them.

To drive traffic to your blog, post good content. Write about and post videos of what people need because they want value. For instance, if you’re selling brake pads, talk about the types of materials that make a difference in performance. So, when your community is ready to buy, they’re going to buy from you because you’ve already given them value for free. Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertisements, according to Calvert. Newspapers as they exist today are dying. They must either learn to adapt or die.

Word of Mouth

Treat bloggers the same way you would treat traditional media outlets, but don’t send them press releases. Blogs should serve as your home base, and you should direct traffic from Facebook to your blog. It’s where you create your contact and add the greatest amount of value to your customers. Blogging is an ongoing thing, and you want people to relate to you as a human and not as a company. One quality blog post a day or even a week is better than 10 lousy blog posts per day.

“Build brand loyalty and trust,” Calvert said. “It’s word of mouth on steroids. Once you start doing this effectively, your customers are going to sell for you in a way you could never do yourself.”

For more SEMA webinars, click here.

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