Passing (and Winning!) the Twitter and Google Test

I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic webinar yesterday afternoon on the subject of passing the Twitter and Google (TAG) test. You don’t know what that means, do you? Yeah, I didn’t either. Turns out it was all about how to get your brand in front of your customers by showing up in the places they’re looking for you like Google, Twitter and the other social media avenues. And believe me, moderator Brent Leary made speakers Anita Campbell, Liz Strauss and Mike Volpe work for their keep in this one.

Yesterday’s conversation focused around two main points: The importance of forming satellite communities around the Web and using Twitter. If you weren’t able to attend yesterday’s webinar, here’s some of what you missed.

Building Satellite Communities

I had never heard the term “satellite community” before yesterday, but I now fully plan on stealing it from Anita. It creates great imagery for small businesses looking just outside their bubbles to find new, outlying communities floating among them. And that’s exactly where they should be looking. Winning the Google battle in today’s economy means reaching out to your customers where they’re naturally hanging out on the Web and doing things on their terms. Liz referred to it as setting aside our “concrete world view” and putting ourselves in network relationships. That’s what social listening is about.

As a marketer and small business owner, these conversations and other perspectives are very important because they tell you where to put your content. For a message to have meaning, you need a place to put it. And these social outposts help you find the locations where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. You also have to realize that the message you’re sending isn’t always the message that’s being received. And the message received isn’t always the message sent. You have to test it first. Social media and these satellite communities let you dig until you get to the heart of the data and the people you’re trying to reach.

So where should you be creating these satellite communities? Wherever your customers are already hanging out. Meet them on their turf. That may mean:

  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • MyBlogLog
  • LinkedIn
  • Ning
  • Document sharing sites
  • Vendor sites like Dell’s
  • Product sites

Whatever you do, you have to give it time and commit to being there for the long haul.

More Twitter Talk

Not surprisingly, a good chunk of yesterday’s talk focused on Twitter and how small businesses can use it as an outreach and conversation tool. When asked which social network they couldn’t live without if marooned on an island, both Liz and Anita chose Twitter. Mike would have chose Twitter but he felt pressured to be different and went with LinkedIn. But it seems for all the buzz, Twitter really does deliver. Both Liz and Anita explained that Twitter provides small business owners with a great way to drive traffic to their sites and to connect with people. It’s more flexible, covers more niches, its faster and comes with a wider reach than many of the other social networks.

Twitter can seem daunting at first to many SMB owners because there’s just so much noise and chaos. To help make sense of the clutter, Liz suggested using Tweetdeck, a great tool that allows you to sort your followers into groups to make them easier to manage.

The speakers talked a bit about how social media tools like Twitter can really become change agents for small businesses, as long you work to understand them and “steer” them rather than trying to control them. Social media is about communication and it’s about sharing. You want to make it fun for people to share your message and make them proud to pass it on. And that really comes down to forming true relationships. Mike recommended using tools like Twitter Grader to find local Twitter users in your area and then start talking to them. You don’t even have to tell them what you do for a living. Just be their friend and the business connections will come second. You should also use Twitter to strengthen relationships with current customers.

If you want to pass the Twitter and Google test, focus on forming those important satellite communities on whatever social media outlet your community is already hanging out on. Also, get on Twitter. You can find me at @lisabarone waiting for you.

If you’d like to see the slides from yesterday’s webinar, check them out on SlideShare.

UPDATE May 4, 2009:  If you’d like to listen to the podcasted interview, please visit Passing the TAG (Twitter & Google) Test: Connecting with Socially-Empowered Customers in 2009.

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Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

10 Reactions
  1. Lisa Barone,

    Thanks for waiting on me in Troy, NY! 🙂 It is funny, I lived in Troy, Ohio, between 2000 – 2002.

    I attended yesterday’s webinar and I enjoyed it very much. The iLinc webinar tool was very easy to use.

    I think that new players will take some part of Twitter’s and Google’s thunder in the future. My guess is a mashup of Twitter’s search engine and some new kind of personalized search. I think that FriendFeed’s popularity will grow when people will start to follow a thread, “vote” on messages (“like” button) and create your own rooms for special groups of users.

    Please feel free to read my post, What Am I Doing On Twitter, by clicking on “Martin Lindeskog” Says. I am fascinated by Evan Williams and his vision for the future and constructive feedback for his former company, Blogger.

  2. Sounds like a lot of good stuff was shared. I’m with you, the term satellite community has a catchy ring to it. It is something you need to nurture and tend to kind of like a garden. It will take lots of attention, time and feeding to get it to grow to a stable community. But once it’s grown, you can reap the benefits. You’ve got me excited now to go out and work on my social efforts!

  3. Amanda,

    I like the garden example. I see it with my chile pepper plants. I put them in soil in end of March and now you see some small plants. It is soon time to repot and then you will (hopefully) get some fruits that you could harvest! 🙂 This process takes at least 1/2 year. Instead of hunting down your potential customers, you have conversation with them and later on you could pluck the day! 🙂 For more on this topic, please read my post, Keep Growing.

  4. Great Session and great summary. Thanks for the insight.

  5. Hi Lisa,

    Congrats! You passed and won! But wait, what, why and how did you won? Did I get it too literal or it’s the opportunity that you have joined such a wonderful webinar is what you’ve meant? 😉

    Anyway, I agree with your thoughts here. I’m sure there will be more webinars coming and hopefully that time I could be able to join again. It was just a little difficult for me because of timezone differences between US and PH… 🙂

  6. Really appreciable.

  7. Thanks for the summary. I attended the webinar and found it very useful; your article provides more depth for a pretty significant topic.

  8. I just notice Technogati. Creative name! Sounds nearly the same with Technorati.. 😉

  9. It seems that Value Proposition is a tough thing to come by. The question of why should customers purchase from you, as opposed to others is a key ingredient towards success. Especially since there are so many services and sites on the internet. I agree the internet can be a useful tool in getting your image out to media, but you do not want excessive tweeting or SPAMing to be your downfall.