Friday, December 30, 2016
Spreading the word about coins
This post is for anyone looking to build an audience, fan base, or community. For instance, numismatic professionals, especially those who sell online. Facebook group admins will benefit from what follows; likewise, coin club members and anyone who wants to help spread the word about the joys of numismatics. My goal is to help you understand how social and micro media can help expand your footprint (digital and real-world), whether that means driving sales, capturing mindshare, increasing opt-ins, reaching new prospects, or simply getting more Likes or Followers.
Marketing is a game of eyeballs. How many eyeballs can you get to look in your direction? And, of those, how many can you get to pay attention? And, most important of all, how many can you get to return once they've left?
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that marketing is about hammering away at people with non-stop ads and pitches. It isn't. Good marketing is about building relationships.
A platform is any medium that provides you a way to pass information to people. In our effort to gain eyeballs, it is important to cultivate multiple platforms. It will not suffice to have a neglected Facebook page for your coin collecting supply store and say, "Yeah, I have a social media presence." Think of it this way, online profiles, user accounts, and pages with your name on it are valuable property (and should be treated as such) because it is often how people are first introduced to you.
There are two categories of platforms:
Borrowed - These are platforms where you do not have direct control. (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, any website you do not own where your name and/or content appears. Yes, you control what gets posted, but Facebook can, at any time, make changes that impact your business or project.) Borrowed platforms can change or disappear at any time without notice. They're important, but you are at their mercy.
Owned - These are platforms that you completely control. Your website, online store, forum, or blog (as long as you own the domain on which it resides). Owned platforms are your home base. This is where you want the eyeballs to land.
Both types of platforms are important. The basic strategy is to use borrowed platforms to drive traffic to owned platforms. Also, borrowed platforms are very useful for maintaining relationships. For the purposes of this article, I am going to be talking about Borrowed Platforms.
I misunderstood Twitter for a long time. When I first began using the site I assumed the goal was to have as many followers as possible. How better to get my message out than to corral as many eyeballs as I could? It turns out that when you approach Twitter this way, and so many people do, you join the world's largest shouting match and your voice becomes just more noise.
It is nearly impossible to pique the interest of an audience by bombarding them with messages. This kind of forceful, "Look at what I say and be interested!" tactic is exactly why the Twitter landscape is littered with abandoned accounts. Many think Twitter is not conducive to marketing because it is impossible to get folks to pay attention to them, but they are missing the whole point of the platform.
Here is the secret to Twitter: It is a relationship building network. This means it is as important, if not more important, to look at what others are Tweeting and do your best to comment and retweet, than it is to continually post your own content.
To help cut down on the "Twitter noise" of irrelevant Tweets, it is best to make a List of people whose attention you would like to get or who share content relevant to what you're doing. Twitter allows you to make these lists by adding users, whether you follow them or not, and then viewing just their Tweets. This is also useful in helping maintain relationships with those you support and/or those who support you. Retweets and comments are always appreciated on Twitter. There's nothing worse than believing you are talking into a void.
Luckily for us, numismatics is alive and well on Facebook. There are thousands of collectors participating in hundreds of groups. There are groups to share photos of your coins, coin auctions, straight up coin sales, question and answer forums, anything you could possibly want.
Facebook is the best tool currently available to the digital marketer to maintain real and meaningful relationships with like-minded people, whether they are customers, prospects, readers, fellow numismatists, or people just looking around in an effort to find a new "thing".
Your overall goals will determine how you should use Facebook. Would you be best served by utilizing your normal user account, creating a page, or starting a group?
Facebook User Accounts - These are the Facebook profiles that we all have. If you want to simply expand your numismatic network, you need look no further than this. Simply go searching for groups or pages that interest you and Join or Like them. Look at what people are saying and add your two cents. (Note about adding your two cents - keep it positive. No one likes a troll.) Remember, depending on your privacy settings, people will be able to see some information about you if they navigate to your profile, so be selective about the Groups you join.
Facebook Pages - Pages are best used if you have something specific to promote, like a business, news source, or cause. They are a great way to share updates with the people who Like your page. The downside of Pages is that they are one-sided. Only the Page admins are able to post on the main page. Posts coming from anyone else are relegated to a small box at the side of the screen. Pages are mainly for sharing information with an audience, not having a conversation. Although, conversations can often start when people begin to comment on a post.
Facebook Groups - They should really be called Facebook Communities, because that's what they are. Groups are the best way to build an online community centered around a specific interest. They're the place to be if you want to participate in an ongoing conversation. I've noticed that groups function best when there is a clear theme. For instance, "Seated Liberty Collectors" would probably be much more focused, and thus more interesting to its members, than "All Things Books," which could have members posting on completely unrelated topics.
LinkedIn is pretty straight forward. It is a professional social media network. It was created to help professionals connect with their contacts, benefit from their contacts' contacts, and share information in a social media setting.
This is another good relationship building platform, like Twitter. But unlike Twitter, there is a certain amount of professional etiquette expected from users. They have a messaging system called InMail. When using it, write in complete sentences and treat all correspondence as if it were a business e-mail.
I make it a point to add as many numismatic professionals as I can to my network. I don't have a plan for how to benefit from all of these contacts, but it doesn't hurt to have them, right? It's how I met Alan Stullenbarger who runs CoinZip.com. Also, LinkedIn gave me the ability to contact one of the engineers from the team that created the coin grading/sorting machine I've written about.
Please keep in mind the above is a simple glossing-over of the three most popular social media platforms. There is a world of opportunity on the internet to grow your online presence. This post serves as a litmus test to gage interest. If growing an online presence is something you are interested in, please let me know. I have plenty more to say on the subject.