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Digital Marketing

"Shut Up & Listen" to Van Baird

Last night, we enjoyed the third of our four scheduled guest speakers at the Digital Marketing class at General Assembly. Van Baird has spent over a decade in the financial services industry, and when he opened his State Farm insurance agency in Johns Creek, he decided he didn’t want to be a typical insurance agent. Van describes what he did not want to be using this clip from “Groundhog Day”:

Right from the get-go, we knew we were in for something different from Van this night. He started us off with a simple exercise that took less than a minute, but made a huge point. Pair up, and take 15-seconds to tell the person you’re paired up with 3 things: where you live now, where you went to high school, and your favorite color. Then switch. Simple. Now, on the count of three, everyone YELL the answer to this question as loud as you can: where were you born?

In the first portion of the exercise, connections were made, information exchanged. In the second part – the yelling part – nobody could hear any information. In 10-seconds face to face, we learned more than screaming the same information all at one time. Is this what social media was meant for? Boom.

At this point, Van started bombarding the class with nuggets of digital wisdom that have the power to completely change how you do social media.

The dreaded auto-DM on Twitter: “Thanks for following! Please subscribe to our newsletter.” I don’t even know you. Don’t be like Ned Briarson from Groundhog Day. Van did not want to be Ned Briarson, so he developed a different model which became Relational Equity, to invest in the people who pay them for something they never use: Insurance. Insurance is like an epi-pen. You must have it there, but you hope you never use it. But Van does it differently. He uses social media to invest in the success of his clients. The results are uncanny.

Remember that very first week on a new job, working for the man? You’re special! Three months later they hire a new group of fresh faces, and you’re no longer special. When you start a business, your first clients feel really loved, because they are your only lifeline, but not after you have 50, 100, 200 clients. We all want to feel loved all the time, not just because we’re your first or 8th client, but because we are people. And people need to be loved on.

Whose content is more valuable, your content or your clients’ content? Try this to get a clear answer to that question: What would happen if you did not listen to your spouse for a month? People share what they are passionate about online. Listen to those you care about. In business, you should care about your clients, so listen to them on social media. How are you using social to create a relational equity with those who pay you? In business and in life, relationships are all that matter.

We don’t apply the 60-20-20 rule that Lindsay Trinkle espoused in real life, but we should. Imagine what would happen if, in real life, when you spoke, 60% of the time you were adding value to those you were speaking to by teaching them something new.

Some facts about the average digital media user:

  • The average Facebook user has 338 friends.
  • The average Twitter user has 208 followers (those who have more than 1,000 followers are the top 1% in the world).
  • The average Instagram user has 112 followers.
  • The average Pinterest user has 67 followers.

Some facts about how users of digital media make purchase decisions:

  • 53% of people on Twitter recommend products in their tweets.
  • 93% of shoppers make a buying decision based on social.
  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations.
  • Only 14% of people trust advertisements.

Now do some math:

  • If 5 Facebook friends like a post, that means up to 1690 people might see it.
  • If 2 Twitter users RT, then your exposure is up to 416 users.
  • If 2 Instagram followers like our picture, that’s exposure of up to 112 users.
  • Two Pinterest repins gets you exposure to 134 users.
  • Total eyeballs from a few seconds on digital media: 2352

But that’s “organic” reach. If you’re paying for advertising, and you’re not paying for advertising on Facebook & Twitter, you’re missing the boat. It has never been easier and more economical to directly target the people that you want to be your customers.

Which is better: you talking about you or other people talking about you? Shut up and listen.

The 4 Ps of marketing don’t matter in digital. Now it’s the 4 Cs:

  1. Create
  2. Curate
  3. Connect
  4. Culture

Van and his company use Evernote to capture life events of their clients – the little things – so they can bring them back up on special dates. Van once noted from one tweet that a client of his loved – I mean really, really loved – a certain kind of pickle. So Van bought him a jar of these pickles for the client’s birthday. Client’s. Mind. Blown.

Van gives access to his company Instagram account only to clients. Then he shares very specific things with only those clients, like a free Starbucks offer that they can use, simply because they are his clients.

Mobile alerts: get notified when your clients tweet.

Van has setup a very simple thing in Twitter: mobile alerts. Every time his clients tweet, he gets a notification, and then he engages with a comment or a favorite or the old fashioned “RT”, which works better, because you’re not one of many. It’s a separate notification to that user, and they see your name. Free advertising, and dirt simple to setup.

Everyone loves to receive love, but it’s even stronger to give love, whether the recipient knows it’s you it or not. Don’t invest for ROI, but for “R.O.R.” – return on relationships.

It’s also simple to create lists in Facebook. Create a list of your clients, and like, share, and comment there first, before you get lost in all the other garbledeegook of Facebook.

You must use Twitter Lists. Put everyone on a list. From your corporate account, follow back only people who are clients.
Make a private account (also using your name or company name) in Instagram, and follow only your clients who use Instagram. Then, every day, scroll through and double tap every picture. How often are you the only user liking someone’s pictures? That’s giving love in a really easy way, and again, they are seeing your name in their digital media life. Free advertising.

Using these simple methods, how many times will your clients see your name in a day? In the Relational Equity model, you don’t ever have to post or tweet. Just follow, like, and share.

And, some quotes from Van that might rock your world, or at least your perception of who you are on digital media.

  • “None of us are as busy as we think we are.”
  • “There’s not a lot of people encouraging others on social.”
  • “Don’t ever just ask people to like your Facebook page. Give them a very specific reason. Tell them what they will get for liking your page.”
  • “Always engage on a personal level if you can. Most of the time, on the other end of that social account is a person. Engage with them as a person.”

Finally, this amazing thing that I don’t even know how to describe: Van’s company buys Facebook ads for his clients. He invests in the success of his clients.

If you have the opportunity to invite a guest speaker to talk about building real relationships in an increasingly digital world, you should book Van Baird. You’ll be glad you did.

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