Making Twitter Part of Your Success - You Gotta Do It

Man staring at laptop computer with apparent confusion and frustration
Ever wonder how it seems like some of your contemporaries are really successful with social media platforms, and you can't seem to get any traction? Welcome to the club, my friend....and the clubhouse is full of people just like you. Social media is an area where many otherwise confident professionals stumble around aimlessly, often abandoning their effort out of frustration or confusion. I think this is especially true for the more veteran members of our profession. The fast pace at which technology has progressed has resulted in the technical sales profession having a population exhibiting a very wide range of marketing communication skill sets. There are still pros working today that set up their first contact management system (they didn't call it that back then) on paper 3 x 5 cards. They have had to assimilate and adapt through the advent of the personal computer, the cell phone, the hard disk drive, portable computers, digital watches, CRM, smart phones, the Internet, social media, and a whole pile of other gut wrenching agents of change. Younger sales pros assimilated much of the today's general technology before they entered the workforce, which will give them something of an advantage in pursuit of today's topic, Twitter.

For now, please just accept that...

Twitter needs to be a part of your professional social media effort, for yourself and your company. 

What is Twitter?

In Twitter's own words:
Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It's an easy way to discover the latest news related to subjects you care about.

How does Twitter work?

Users share their own content (called a Tweet) for followers or other interested users to see in their feed or search results. Tweets can contain text, links, images, and other content. A Tweet has construction rules that limit its length to 140 characters, so brevity is important.

What can Twitter do to enhance my marketing effort?

Your activity on Twitter can get you known to individuals that can impact your business. It helps develop recognition of you as a knowledgeable, active, and trustworthy professional in your field.

What do I need to do to make this happen?

Sales professional
Do the important things that will lead to revenue

Create an account

This will be a personal account for your exclusive business use. Let your boss know what you are doing, since there may be some guidelines the company wants you to follow in your social media work. I suggest you create an account that is for business purposes only, you as your business persona. If you already have a personal Twitter account, keeping your non-business interests and posts segregated from those directly related to your business is recommended. Exposing your business contacts to your personal interests and thoughts can have unpredictable results. Avoid the risk.

Fill out your profile

The Twitter profile consists of very basic information.
Take the time and effort to produce and include a professional looking picture of yourself! 
Look professional, your profile picture should portray that image. You are not targeting your friends. Indicate where you work. Your birthday is not important. Create a tag, the @username, that identifies you to other users. It should be uncomplicated and business oriented. You can use a derivative of your real name, but your choice may not be available, already claimed by another. The @username is part of your own personal brand, so give some thought to it and be prepared to stick with it.

Find influential or useful people to follow

Twitter is about following and being followed. Use Twitter's search function to find people, organizations, and companies that are part of your business universe. Look for:
  • Coworkers
  • Customers you know
  • People that work at companies where you want to do business
  • Professional organizations pertaining to the markets in which you sell
  • Companies whose products you sell
  • Competitors (maybe)
  • Companies or organizations related to your profession (technical sales)
Don't overthink this, just do it. Follow a few new people each day and see what kind of content starts to show up in your feed. The party will be notified that you are following them, so follow people that will consider your interest in them to be a positive occurrence. A number of them will check out your profile, to see who you are. They may check out your profile on other social media sites, to see if you are someone they want to know, or know about. Some will reciprocate and follow you. All good things.

Gather followers

You get followed if you are interesting, useful, or entertaining. Be those things by posting relevant comments and other content that will draw the attention of those with whom you wish to connect. I suggest you avoid the use of sarcasm, ridicule, or content of questionable merit. Positive, supportive, thoughtful content and comments are in order here. Ever heard the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? It definitely applies here, and to all social media. Since this article is targeted at technical sales professionals, I going to recommend you keep non-business related posts on your business page to a minimum. Keep it focused.

Start at a comfortable pace on your Twitter activity. You will learn about the use of #hashtags, @usernames, and other techniques that will boost your effectiveness. There are more articles on the web about Twitter than you can read in a lifetime. When you have a question, Google it and browse a few of the articles. You will become expert level in a very short span of time. Twitter is not difficult, just different.
Twitter logo
This is the Twitter logo.
You will see it many places.

Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Tweet your own content, articles you found, your company's blog posts, etc.
  • Retweet relevant and interesting content that shows up in your feed, like your company blog.
  • Find and join a group that pertains to your industry.
  • Respond to people with whom you share similar interests by retweeting their content, marking their content as a favorite, or following them.
  • Check out people following the people you follow. They may be useful for you to engage by following them, eventually having them show interest in and following you.

What's next?

I know that's a lot of following and you will need to read some other articles to build your Twitter chops, but you will very quickly get the hang of it. The goal here is to engage, share, and be seen. Show that you are interested in your industry, your customers. Show that you are someone worth contacting and doing business with.

My intent with this article is to get you to see some potential value in investing time to set up and create a Twitter presence, then get you familiar with the basics of the startup. The key to getting results is consistency in your posting activity. You must engage regularly. The good news is that large blocks of contiguous time are not needed for Twitter activity. As skill and confidence build, you will be able to accomplish your goals for this social media platform by utilizing a spare minute here, five there, and so on. Get started. There is more we will do later, but get

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.

Video Content for Social Media - DIY But Do It Well

Use video in your content marketing
It is well known in marketing circles that video is king, or at least a very powerful medium for delivering a message. Video presentations can attract and maintain the fullest attention of a target audience. They also allow producers to communicate information in a dense and effective format, generally unattainable using text descriptions or still images.
No matter your business size, use video in social media activities.
Not using social media very much, or at all? Get some perspective from a previous blog post, "Making the Social Media Investment Work".

Producing video content on your own, in-house, DIY, or whatever else you might call it takes a little investment in time and equipment. You need to have the right equipment to produce good quality video files, and there will be some time devoted to learning basic production techniques. The levels of equipment and time required are not intimidating. You learn to walk first, then run.

If producing video content yourself is not an attractive option, there are production houses to which you can outsource all or part of your production. At the CMS4i shop, we do some video production work, and plan on increasing our capabilities and the extent of video content in our client work. Take note of that. We are not just telling you to use video. We are using video, and plan to do more of it.

Producing a video may sound easy, and it will be after you slog through the first few projects and claw your way up the learning curve a little. This is not a "how to" article, as there are libraries of them on the web you can read. I do, however, want to share some standards with you that should guide your work.

  • Script your video prior to pressing the record button. Make the video in your head first, then pick up a recorder. Script out specific points to make, images to show. Consider what subjects and delivery methods will be interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged?
  • Be mindful of your timeline. Viewers will have likely discovered your content coincidentally through other online activities. They were doing something else when they found your video. Pace is important, so keep things moving. Avoid lengthening scenes in an effort to let your message "sink in". If a viewer likes your presentation, they will view it more than once to build understanding or be entertained all over again. They are more likely to view a two minute show than a ten minute show. You may want to break larger subjects into several shorter presentations and link them together.
  • Use sound....always. Even animations should have a soundtrack. If the video delivers your message without any commentary, include a music track. Keep in mind that any commentary does not need to be produced in real time with the video portion. You can easily add commentary, called a voice-over, at a later time. 
  • Produce high quality audio. Purchase a good microphone, maybe a few of them. There is some other gear you may need, but it won't break the bank. If the equipment selection process is a barrier for you, find someone in your company that is into audio production to help. Most musicians have the knowledge needed to get things set up, or can connect you with one of their tech savvy comrades. You do not need the best gear, just the right gear. 
  • Produce good quality video. Read this as "Don't use your phone". Purchase a small dedicated video recorder and a tripod to hold it steady. If you use a mobile recorder, either hand held or strapped to a body part, drone aircraft, or other moving thing, be mindful of shaky images.
Your video content is easily published on YouTube or any of several other web locations. Working with these sites is generally a simple matter. There are aspects to video publishing that you will need to learn, but we will save those for another article.

Here is the important takeaway from this article....
The quality of published video content reflects directly on your brand image.
A visitor views an interesting, engaging, useful, or entertaining video from your company and they will be inclined to view another. Poor quality will generate poor, or possibly negative, results. Whether you believe that, or not, do not risk the potential negative impact of a poor quality presentation. Invest the time and money to produce good videos.

My intent here is to get you started, moving in the direction of providing video content for your customers. There is plenty more to discuss, and I encourage you to contact me directly with any suggestions or requests you have for future articles on this subject.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.

Tweet, Tweet...What You Should Be Doing With Your Twitter Account Everyday

Twitter logo
Let me set the environment for this article.You are a technical sales professional. You have, among several social media accounts, a Twitter account. You want to use the Twitter account to increase your personal and company brand presence, with two goals in mind:

Grow your contact base

Develop your brand image as a serious, knowledgeable, engaged individual in your industry

Notice that I did not mention "grow sales". The target audience of this article is professionals engaged in technical sales. The nature of technical sales generally requires a level of consultation between the seller and buyer to confirm a match between the product capabilities and the application requirements. Rarely are orders for significant items placed without personal contact between buyer and seller prior to the sale. As a tech sales pro, you just want to be contacted when an application arises, so you can have the opportunity to match your product to the customer's needs...and get the order.
The purpose of Twitter for you, tech sales pro, is to keep your name top of the customer's mind for all matters relating to your product offering.
That would be perfect! Whenever the customer thinks about anything related to your products and their application, your name smoothly drifts into their thoughts. Don't expect to be 100% successful at that, but it is possible to achieve a substantial level of recognition, and keep your name in the forefront, by investing time to establish presence in your industry. Twitter is part of that investment.

How do I make Twitter work for me?

Twitter is easy to use and does not need to take up big blocks of your time. With the app on your smartphone, you can do what needs to be done in some of those small stretches of nonproductive time you have during every day. Here is what you need to do:

Find sources of interesting and relevant industry news and information, preferably pertaining to the types of products you sell and their application. You can subscribe for free to many sources and set them up to feed stories and news to your inbox. Once you get them set up, there will be little need to search for news. It will be handed to you.

At least once per day, share an interesting article. Many articles and news items will have a Twitter share button. You can just click the Twitter icon and the article will be shared to your page and the news feed of your followers. You will have an opportunity to add your comments to the Tweet before it is posted. If you comment, say something relevant that will be construed as unoffensive by everybody on the planet, or say nothing at all. The point is to attach your name to the interesting article and deliver it to your followers. Simple. Do not assume that everybody reads the same publications and sources you do. They may subscribe, but don't have or take the time to read everything. You are picking the best content and showing it to them. Share often, share at different times during the day. Avoid sharing on weekends and evenings. Twitter is a real time feed. As new items are posted to your followers' feed, the older posts get pushed downward on the page. That is why posting often is necessary, but avoid repeatedly posting the same item. Each post should be unique. Here is what you get when you share and article...
Example of a Tweet
This is a sample Tweet that shares a link to an article I found.
The more you do it, the easier it gets, the less time it takes. Research has shown that higher levels of posting activity will produce more followers. Followers are people that will see the items you share and be reminded of who you are. 
The most important aspect of this strategy is consistency.
Effectiveness emerges as you develop a habit of tweeting several times per day. The tweet I created above required less than one minute to complete, most of which was spent reading the article. Avoid overthinking whether your audience will like the article you selected. If you think it is relevant to your field, tweet it. In very little time, you will become a master and start to see results as your follower base expands.

Symbol icon for retweet
Retweet Icon
You can also retweet content that is shared by others. This is real easy to do. At the bottom of every post there is an icon that will retweet the post. The icon looks like two arrows extending around a rectangle. Click and you can ad your own comment, or just let it fly as is. Retweets do not share the promotional impact of an original tweet because your profile picture does not appear with a retweet, just your name. The name of the original poster is displayed on retweets, which is why you want to be the originator of good content. When your content is retweeted by others, your name gets shared to new potential followers.
Twitter users will follow generators of good content.

If you have created original content and want to share....Bravo! Twitter provides capability to share a link to your content, along with your personal comment. Include images that relate to the content for greater promotional power for your tweet. You can delete a tweet after it is posted, so do not be afraid to practice. Your company's blog provides ready made content for your original tweets, as do the press releases and articles produced by the manufacturers you represent.

Build a habit of tweeting throughout the business day. Keep an eye out for content everywhere. Build your follower count and become recognized as a trusted and authoritative source of information. The essence of your Twitter presence is summed up in the short video included above.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. share this article with our coworkers. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.

Making the Social Media Investment Work - The Data Obsession

Website analytics data
How applicable is your data to real decision making?
As small business operators, we continuously look for answers, confirmation that we are doing the right thing. In today’s climate, metrics are ubiquitous. There is a push to assign a number to every aspect of the business, compare some measure of performance to a benchmark or goal. When it comes to digital marketing and social media activities, it can be difficult to draw a straight line between impressions, clicks, or page views and revenue generating results. This is particularly true if your website does not have a commerce component where customers can buy your products. It is even more true when your scale is small, where a relatively limited number of outcomes can have a large impact on the data picture. Data is best for decision making when there is a virtual mountain of it. In any other case, treat it as informative, but not indicative enough to direct the helm of the company.
What is important, is that you see something happening in your social media and other digital marketing that can be considered positive progress in areas that lead to opportunity and revenue. 
Clicks and page views are not orders, and assigning some cooked up dollar value to them in order to judge performance may not be the best way to make marketing decisions. Most page views are potential customers checking you out, looking to see if your company appears to be one worth doing some business with.

You are in the sales and promotion business. You have a certain amount of intuition that relates to your field; otherwise you would probably be in another. Be careful about letting data overrule your intuition. Data is not inherently better than intuition; it’s just a different methodology for decision making. Data is useful when working to bring others into agreement with your view of things, to “bring them on board”.  When there is data, everyone can look at it and agree. You don’t need to have faith when there is data.

In recent decades, we have been increasingly indoctrinated to worship data. In many cases that adoration is well deserved. However, if you are not a statistician, or one with a firm understanding of statistics and how to determine the validity of a data sample, caution should be your watchword.
At its simplest, validity relates to whether data, and the research used to obtain it, is really measuring results related to some target aspect of your marketing program.
Is it really measuring what you think it is measuring, or are you just gathering numbers. If you are using your intuition to assess the validity of a data set, instead of statistical methods, be very cautious about making big moves based upon that information.
Website analytics are a challenge
Don't overthink your website analytics reports

Another question related to your quantitative measurements is how reliable the collected information may be.
Reliability relates to how well the method of data acquisition leads to consistent results. 
For example, if you are looking at the monthly stats on your website analytics report, how do you determine if the deductions or decisions you might make based on that data would apply to every month, or a larger group of customers with a more normal distribution (sorry for the statistics lexicon). Essentially, are you seeing things that relate to just the group of customers contained in the data, or can what you see be applied to your entire customer base? There is a substantial amount of math involved in answering that question, not intuition.

Large marketers, with substantial brand recognition and market penetration, have to struggle with statistical validity and reliability continuously. Their challenge is to squeeze some incremental increase out of a market where they already enjoy a significant presence and share.
Here is the good news.
You, my small business friend, can ignore the statistical details and focus on things that will generate revenue. By that, I am suggesting that most of you are probably in the early to middle stages of implementing a digital marketing or social media marketing plan. For now, and probably quite some time into your future, bigger gains will be reaped from focusing on implementation and procedure, than data gathering and analysis. Put some reasonable assets and activities into action and get some results.

In order for your data to truly be useful, it must expand to a volume that will produce verifiable and reliable results. There are plenty of orders to be closed between now and then, so let’s focus on that.

If you are still with me here, I hope you are more astute and comfortable with the statistical aspect of your digital marketing and social media efforts. Those analytics that show how many visitors came to your website, pages they viewed, and how long they lingered are interesting and useful as gauges of activity. The desired long term trend of activity indicators is upward, with flat being acceptable, and negative giving cause for concern. No matter the case, don't stress about it

My next post will bring some insight concerning what you should expect to gain from your social media presence and Internet footprint. As always, comment or contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.

What is the Purpose of Your Business?

Pictorial depiction of success
Keep your business on the right path
Take a step back from your daily routine and reflect on the purpose of your business. I know, you're thinking this is a stupid question. I assert that if you do not meditate on this simple concept periodically, your business is at increasing risk of drifting away from its charted path.

So that new readers are aware of the perspective from which I write, the majority of our customers here at the CMS4i shop are involved in manufacturing or distributing industrial process control instruments and equipment. The selling of these products is generally application specific, and requires technical knowledge and problem solving skills that most people would not normally have. This puts our customers squarely in the sphere of technical sales professionals, and that is the target audience of this article.

So, technical sellers, in case your thinking may have gotten off track, I shall remind you of something that is very important to your success...
The purpose of business is to collect checks.
Simple. Of course, in order to do that, there are other activities at which you need to excel.
  • Post delivery follow up and assurance of customer satisfaction.
  • Delivery and performance of your product or service.
  • Securing the order or contract.
  • Submitting a proposal or quote.
  • Eliciting information about customer expectations.
  • Getting approved or considered as a vendor.
  • Showing your value, delivering your value proposition.
  • Get known.
All of the above are tasks or skills at which you must be competent in order to survive as a purveyor of technical products. I listed them in the reverse order of which they are usually executed in order to make a point. These activities can be considered to be dependently sequential in their flow from the bottom to the top of the list. If you are not successful at completing a task, it is unlikely that you will proceed up the chain and ultimately get an order from the customer. It is all connected in a fashion that puts more value on the earlier stages.

Surely, you can point to some instances in your career where you succeeded, in spite of your mistakes. You have likely been able to shortcut the process a few times. There are also memories of orders that just seemed to fall from the sky into your hands. It’s time for a reality check here. We are not successful because of these aberrations. Success is based upon the commonplace, every day, somewhat repetitive, normal course of business that lives under the fat part of a bell curve.

Distribution of Transactions: Degree of Sales Engineer Involvement

Your personal success is based upon how often you can enter the list of successive tasks shown above, at the bottom, and proceed to the point of obtaining an order.

At this point, you may be musing about what all this has to do with digital marketing, social media, and the Internet.
How are social media and digital marketing activities going to help you get better outcomes from each of those process steps in my list of necessary tasks?
Most of the heavy lifting is up to you, my tech seller comrades. The digital marketing and social media efforts your company has put into place are specifically targeted at the initial, but most essential, step in the sales process….getting known. Getting the company known, the lines known, the products known, and building a brand or image that…

  • Is universally positive.
  • Stays “top of mind” with potential customers.

…That’s what this is all about. There may some additional benefits as you progress up the task ladder toward an order, but those are not as profound.

Once you make a personal connection with a purchasing decision maker for a project, it’s all up to you. You know what to do, how to do it, and your success is based upon your professional skills and the desirability of the products you sell. The marketing efforts we conduct on the Internet for your company are targeted to get you the opportunity to apply your skills directly at revenue generating activities.

Let's summarize:
  • The goal of your business is to generate revenue.
  • Revenue is generated through the successful performance of a generally sequential set of tasks.
  • Getting known, or being known, is the initial step in every transaction.
  • The purpose of digital marketing and social media activities is to establish a presence, get you known, achieve a level of recognition in your customer base.
  • The greatest volume and most efficient opportunities for revenue generation exist in the mundane sphere of everyday business activity.
Other articles in this blog, which you are encouraged to follow, will cover specific things you can do to boost the effectiveness of digital marketing and social media activities conducted by you and your company. The endgame is to deliver more opportunities for you to ply your craft and collect checks.

Subscribe to the blog for more content on digital marketing and social media marketing. Comment, or contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.

Making the Social Media Investment Work - Part One of Infinity

Continuously Re-examine Your Methods
Improve Your Process to Improve Your Outcome
I've been on board here at CMS4i for a few months now, generating content, taking in the things that are happening around me, trying to learn a few new skills and make good use of the old ones. My personal objective for this new position is to keep my head down, do some good work, stay employed. No lofty goals for this guy. Be peaceful, avoid confrontation, go with the flow.....smooth sailing all the way.

There are moments when I long to be the person I just profiled. That individual is comfortable. There are likely moments when you long to be that person too, bereft of doubt, without the pressures of risk, time management, cold calling, presentations, cash flow management, expense reports, or any of the other business activities that make us squirm and itch in our professional pursuits. Of course, the profile I gave you is total fiction, except for the "few months" part. I squirm and itch about much of the same stuff as you.

Sales and marketing is a career path of risk and uncertainty, that's why the potential rewards are high. Performance is all that counts, no matter the economic or market conditions. If you work on commission or operate your own a business, you know all about risk, uncertainty, and the importance of performance. If you work on salary, you likely know all about performance metrics (formerly called quotas) and the implications inherent in failing to meet them.

Whether you ended up in the sales game by design or default, you are faced with the same challenge. How do I make this work? How do I meet my targets? How do I succeed? Your real challenge is...
"Without any more hours in the day, how can I produce just a little bit more than yesterday?"
I am not going to tell you how to sell. You already know. Throughout this string of articles, I intend to help you figure out how to increase the number of opportunities you get to sell. Getting orders is not your true challenge. Your challenge is being known, getting considered and given a chance to make your pitch, prove your value. I am going help you leverage your time, the one thing you cannot possibly get more of, to produce just a little bit more results than yesterday. This is not about personal time management and scheduling. I am talking about increasing the number of times when you are in touch with the right person at the right time. That is what has the highest potential to generate revenue.

In successive blog posts, I will break down social media marketing into small understandable topics and, most importantly, provide actionable advice you can use to increase the number of opportunities you get to sell. As my catchy title implies, this is a never ending process of learning, applying, and assessing your sales and marketing related activities on the Internet. Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime.