Social Media Training and Consultation

Catch a wave on the social media ocean

social media experts in hampton roads The social media wave has made a huge impact on the way we market our businesses.

Social media is “hot,” but is it a fad? Does it work to promote your business? What is the ROI? Which platforms are the best?

These are questions we hear when we talk to our clients about this new media wave rolling through our business and personal lives. People are confused because the answers aren’t clear-cut.

We believe that social media as a phenomenon is not a fad; individual sites or applications may or may not stick around for the long term, but social media is here to stay. It will only morph into something new and more exciting and challenging, so if your business has not yet begun to develop an online presence, you are going to be left in the dust. Every application is not right for every business, but we have yet to encounter a business that could not benefit from the massive exposure that social media affords.

What’s the big deal?

Social media is an important development, sometimes referred to as “Web 2.0,” because it allows two-way communication. The old paradigm of talking at customers is dead. Now, customers talk back. And if they don’t like what you are doing, they not only tell the neighbor over the back fence, they tell the world through tweets and blog updates.

Today companies that aren’t paying attention to what the online chatter says about their business can easily be smashed on the rocks before they know what’s happened. You can’t afford to ignore your online reputation.

But where to start?

In most cases, that should be a blog. If you don’t yet have a traditional web site, don’t bother. They are quickly becoming passé. A blog can do everything that the old “brochureware” web site could do and more. This site, for example, is a blog built on a custom WordPress theme. It provides options for “static” pages, which are the traditional-looking tabs that allow you to promote your business. In addition, the blogging function allows for quick and easy updates, which the search engines love.

And speaking of search engines . . .

Of course everyone wants to be one “page one” of Google, but getting there is becoming harder and harder as search terms are becoming more competitive. The answer is to determine what your niche is and to “own” the long-tail key words that describe your niche.

We can help you do that by providing copy optimized for the search engines, a robust social media presence, a solid linking strategy and the technical skills to make sure that your site is constantly tweaked on the back end. All of these things work together to bring traffic to your site and customers to your door.

Where should I have a profile?

It depends on your goals. First, we work with you to develop a plan to determine your goals and objectives. Then we recommend a strategy, including overall direction and key messaging. At the tactical level, we will suggest specific social media applications that best fit your business, develop any necessary graphics to bring them to life, and train you or your staff to maintain them.

It’s important to see social media not as an end in themselves, but as tools to help you accomplish your overall goals. They are tools within your PR and marketing plan; they aren’t the marketing plan.

Individual or group training

Your business may only need training on social media, and we offer that as well. We will customize a program to meet your specific needs, whether it is for an hour or for an entire day.

The best social media applications you’ve never heard about.

While some applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are well known, there are literally thousands of applications in existence, some of which are specific to certain industries. While we don’t pretend to know them all, here are a few that you may find helpful to explore.

Advogato – Free, open source software.

Athlinks — Running, swimming.

BabyCenter – Moms, parenting, pregnancy.

Bebo – General. “BEBO” is an acronym for “Blog Early. Blog Often.”

BigTent – Organization and communication portal for groups

CafeMom – Mothers.

CaringBridge – Not for profit provides free web sites that connect family and friends during a serious healthcare event, care and recovery.

Creative Commons — is a nonprofit organization that increases sharing and improves collaboration.

DailyBooth — Photo-blogging site where users upload a photo every day. Your life in pictures.

DailyStrength — Medical and emotional support community for physical health, mental health, support groups.

deviantART — Art community.

iLiveWithADisability — For people with disabilities and their loved ones to discuss sensitive issues that only members with similar issues can relate to. – A site for Baby Boomers.

Flixter — Movies.

Foursquare – Location-based mobile social network.

Goodreads – Library cataloging, book lovers.

Lafango — Upload and share unlimited media (audio, video, images, and text), communicate in discussion forums, compete in contests, create electronic press kits and blog. — Music.

LibraryThing – A site for book lovers.

Listography – Lists. Autobiograhy. – Used to plan offline meetings for people interested in various activties.

MyChurch – Christian Churches.

MyHeritage – Family-oriented social networking service. Share your photos and family tree.

Ning – Create your own social web sites and social networks.

OneWorldTV – Not for profit site. Video sharing and social networking aimed at people interested in social issues, development and the environment.

PartnerUp – Social networking site for entrepreneurs and small business owners. – A simple and free service that makes updating your other social networks easier by aggregating them from quicker management.

Plaxo – A socially connected address book.

Qapacity — A web site creator for small businesses.

Ravelry — A site for knitters and crocheters.

ResearchGate — A site for scientists and researchers.

ScienceStage — Videos and podcasts for science, research, education, business.

ShareTheMusic — A legal music-sharing site.

SocialVibe – Social network for charity.

SomethingAwful — Humor.

Squidoo — Useful overview pages written by real people.

Stickam — Live streaming video from your computer or phone.

StumbleUpon – “Stumble” through web sites that match your selected interests.

TalkBizNow — Business services for the business community.

Taltopia — Discover, promote, critique and enjoy creative talent. Build a fan club, book gigs, enter contests and get the exposure you deserve!

TeachStreet — An online community for people who love to learn. – Travel.

Travellerspoint – Travel.

Tribe — Find your tribe.

Tumblr – Microblogging.

Virb – Social network for artists, musicians, photographers.

Wattpad – Site for readers and authors to interact and share e-books.

WeRead – Books.

WiserEarth — Online community for social justice and the environmental movement.

Yammer – The private social networking for office colleagues.

Yelp – Local business review and talk.

Zooppa — Online community for creative talent.

Photo: I am a wave … from Hamed Saber