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5 Things I learned at #SMAZ

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This was my first SMAZ event, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Besides, I work for a pest control company, so how much is really applicable to killing crickets and scorpions, right?  Sure, we posted our “Black Widow vs. 27 Scorpions” video on YouTube last week, but even I understand that’s barely a drop in an enormous ocean.  For me, the SMAZ event was tremendously fascinating and motivating.  Here are the five most interesting ideas on my notepad. (A notepad! I know…ghetto huh? Next year I’ll be the guy next to me yesterday tweeting on the iPad in one hand, and tweeting from a different handle on the iPhone in the other hand.)

1.  96% of Y Generation interacts with social media.  Think about that.  That’s amazing!  The presenter immediately followed that stat up with “that’s more than Boomers watched television.”  Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare.  Didn’t blogging just come out like 6 years ago?!?  That’s an incredible statistic. Social media isn’t just some fad or popular wave.  It’s now a lifestyle.  My 12 and 14 year old nephews both have Facebook accounts.  My wife, both sister-in-laws, sister, brother-in-law and both brothers all have accounts.  As I think about it, other than our family relationship, that’s probably the one feature that we all commonly share.

2. Complete strangers are interested in my life. Take Twitter for example.  Some people follow 5,000 people, and may be followed themselves by 7,000 others.  Obviously your Ashton Kutchers and Paris Hiltons of the world are going to have hundreds of thousands of followers, but even Joe Shmo can build quite a crowd of listeners.  And I haven’t even specified if his tweets are anything of significance or value.  Maybe he’s tweeting what cereal he’s having in the morning.  Jane Nobody, who lives 1,500 miles away, might actually tweet back regarding his bowl of Cinnamon Life (which I had this morning, by the way). Seeing people connect is cool.

3. Keep your social mediums, company website and newsletters separate. This was a great point!  Keep in mind that while many people tend to gravitate towards one particular medium, there are many others that want all of them.  It’s possible, and likely, that one of your customers is also your Twitter follower, Facebook fan, website visitor, newsletter recipient, rewards member, VIP customers and your free walking billboard when they wear your company t-shirt.  Not everything that appears on your website needs to be a tweet or status update.  You also don’t need to re-post all your tweets and updates back into your monthly newsletter.  While there is a time and place to repeat things, your content should vary from one medium to another.  This reminds me of being a kid, and not wanting my food to invade each other on the dinner plate.  It may all be going to the same place, but I’d at least like to enjoy the flavors individually. Broccoli and hot-dogs shouldn’t be blended together.

4. The press release is still alive. I’ll admit, this was my inner-PR degree speaking from the shadows.  It’s fascinating to think how much the press release has changed and evolved in the last 5 years.  Before we had our list of media contacts, email bombed everyone, and followed up a few days later.  While this is still one way of doing it, the online press release has really changed the game in more ways than one.  Services like PRNewswire can get your release looked at by thousands of gatekeepers.  On top of that, it’s already online, which makes it searchable and viewable by potentially millions more.  On top of THAT, it’s great for SEO, given the fact that once it’s reposted it’s given your website a friendly backlink.  It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

Shown by Sheila Kloefkorn of KEO Marketing (Phoenix, AZ)

And 5. Optimize EVERYTHING! I’ve even seen this work in pest control.  Last month we had sales close via the company blog.  We also closed sales via Facebook.  And, my boss even brought in a trackable sale via Twitter.  Whether it’s a Facebook post, a blog entry, a tweet, a video or even a photo, make sure all those items are properly optimized with the appropriate keywords.  Photos might be at the bottom of everyone’s “Need to Optimize” list, but just as important as your blog post.  Do This: Go to SERP, type in the name of your company, hit “search”, then hit the “images” option.  What’s on the first page?  I just did this for my favorite Mexican grill, Costa Vida.  All but two images on the first page belong to the Costa Vida restaurant.  (I’m all about the sweet pork salad. Do yourself a favor this weekend and try it out.)  Simply put, you never know how your next loyal customer is going to find you.  So it’s vitally important to make sure that they actually find you.  Imagine that!

Special thanks to everyone that made the SMAZ event a success.  Breakfast and lunch were great, the speakers were all great and it was fun to meet other locals within the same industry.  I even want to give a shout out to the parking garage guy that let us out of the garage for free.  See you all next year.

Steve Bitter
@stevebitter
Bulwark Exterminating

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One Response

  1. Ed Runquist says

    Awesome tips Steve! We are just wading into Social Media and your advice is helpful! Tip #3 really caught my eye, we have been trying to keep all mediums similar and have been wondering if this was the right thing to do.