On June 11, 2010, Smallbiztechnology.com produced 12HoursOfTech as part of Internet Week. The full day event, followed by a reception, brought together speakers from Ez Texting, Kutenda, Infusionsoft, Orange Soda, Net@Work, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, IT2Max, Tap11, Affect Strategies, Pattie Stone, Odesk, Hill Data Management , Yelp, RatePoint and Antonio Neves.
12HoursOfTech was hosted by Microsoft NYC and sponsored by Net@Work
Gary Gertz, Net@Work, Web Development Specialist
How to turn prospects into customers and customers into fans?
Watch the video and/or read the transcript!
The concept of being a fan is very important. People treat things they are fans of differently than things they are customers of.
Take the Watz TV show for example. They generate a great community force behind them. People can get obsessed, they start searching, posting, commenting.
Businesses have the opportunity to communicate with people at an entirely new level.
The tools that companies have to communicate with their clients are changing over the last couple of years. Before, the right communication was “yelling” with the hope people would listen, Mr. Gertz says. The next thing that happened was that everybody started yelling. John Landaker says, “Half the money I spend for advertising is wasted; the problem is to understand which half”. This happens when you don’t know what’s effective.
Another problem is that customers don’t want to just listen. That usually leads to having customers that don’t care about you. So you as a company need to listen to people and interact with them.
Social media provides communication in two different directions: when you talk about your business and when other people talk about it. Nowadays people have a voice. They use forums, blogs, they have YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, etc. They have their ways to get their comments out there. These comments belong not only to you, on your web site, but they are public as well, Mr. Gertz says.
People also have new virtual homes; they can establish profiles at FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. At these places, people form “nests” where they can represent their identities. At these places they tend to interact with their favorite brands, and they can comment on the specific products your company delivers.
Some statistics since January 2010 are impressive: LinkedIn has 60 million users; Twitter – 105 million users with 300k new users per day and 65 million Tweets per day. Yelp – a great review web site to search for a restaurant, bar, or local business has 30 million visitors per month.
FaceBook has 400 million active users, and 50% of them are logging in every day. An average user has 130 friends and when they like a business, the word spreads.
What does all of this mean? It means that people talk about everything, about what they do, what they buy, what they love and hate. Bad news spreads, but so does good news. For your business it is important to have a good reputation online.
What is Whuffie?
Corey Doctorow wrote about that concept in his fiction book ” Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”. It says that once society has enough of everything, the thing that needs special treatment is your reputation. And reputation is measured by how much you can give to society. This generates your Whuffie, which is an ephemeral, reputation-based currency. It allows you to buy things.
Whuffie represents the currency of the social network. It works in the online world. It is formed by your reputation, connections, influence, access, favors, accomplishments, trust and sharing. There are people that we are listening to. We can trust their opinion and act upon their advice. These people get more respect and make more connections.
“My recommendation is to figure out ways to build your Whuffie,” Mr. Gertz says. Whuffie can buy you audience, trust and the right to play. While you allow people to interact with your company on-line, you should listen and talk to them when they say negative things about your products. Unless you have credibility, a reputation in the present, before problems occur, you don’t have a position to address the objections.
There are three rules that Mr. Getrz suggests: love your stuff, love your peeps, and give it away.
Loving your stuff really means to understand your product and to have a passion about it. Passion is communicable. This is what gets people to pay attention to you. Also, authenticity can’t be faked. Interestingly enough you have to know well your competitors’ products and be passionate about them too. You have to understand what your partners are doing. You have to be aware of the “ecosystem” of business around you. All of this gives you the ability to communicate and to find value.
Loving your peeps actually refers to listening. You have to listen to your customers, to your prospects and to the community around them. The important part is the ability to understand who these prospects are – what they look like, what they love, and ultimately to become a part of their community. You need to talk not only about your product but about anything else too.
The give it away rule is doesn’t mean give away your products – it concerns things that are essentially free for you. You can identify things that you want to share, like valuable pieces of knowledge for example, and share them with the online community. Give away recognition. Allow people to talk about your products and then encourage them. Say “Thank you”. Give away your passion – this costs you nothing.
How you can actually share knowledge?
You can comment on blogs and this way you are building a reputation. Also you can create a blog and provide it with content, which means you are providing value. Twitter is really important. The main key is to listen, but you can look for mentions, for competition and topics that you can interact with. It’s a great advantage to create a FaceBook fan community, where you can project your identity while listening to the people, responding to issues and encouraging your customers. You could create a forum, which gives an opportunity to users to generate content and to provide self-support among forum members. Creating community, you are giving users a place to project and identify themselves.