Social Media Success Stories: Part IIb Alejandro Reyes of Successfool.com

As promised, here is Part 11b of my interview with Successfool.com’s Alejandro Reyes. It looks like there will be a Part 11c, which I’ll post later this week.

HJ: Well, it’s funny how I ran across you. I was actually just surfing and looking for people to follow on Twitter and Michelle’s (MacPhearson) name came up. I went on her site and I stumbled onto a video about you and she spoke about the success of your business, your use of Twitter and the methods you used to follow and engage with people. There are a lot of people on Twitter who are spammers. There are people using the search to find keyword, “online marketer” and their intention is to sell you their methods on how to increase your online business ten-fold or how to be a millionaire by working at home. And yet the way you had approached it was not as overt. I looked at the profile of some of these Twitterers and they followed a lot of people, but their follower base was much smaller. Can you tell me about Twitter since that was the main driver of your traffic?

AR: Twitter is definitely my number one traffic source. And the thing about Twitter is that a lot of people ask me, “How much time does it take?” That’s really one of the big things. I was on Twitter on April Fool’s Day but I was on it as a spectator, listening and watching. It all goes back to that awareness I spoke about. And so I used tools like summize. Twitter eventually purchased them but I went to summize , which  was essentially a Google search engine for Twitter. It’s a conversation search engine. So I was looking at the conversations happening, what people were posting and I started interjecting myself into conversations.  Look at it from an off-line standpoint. If you’re at a social mixer offline like a networking event and you’re joining conversations that are irrelevant and you don’t know what people are talking about, you’re interrupting people’s conversations and it’s rude. And what you have to do – and this is how I am offline – is listen to people and if it’s relevant to something I like, something that I’m interested in or a business that I’m involved in like internet marketing or real estate, I’ll jump into the conversation. So that’s the same thing with Twitter: where you start following people, pay attention to what they’re talking about and if something catches your attention you start to talk about it. And that’s the cool thing about Twitter: As I was sitting back watching conversations, there are a lot of people watching my conversations, your conversations and so they start to say, “Who is this guy? He’s answering a bunch of questions and providing some value and he’s getting content.”  And because my blog was in my bio, people started to come to it. On my blog, the hits to my contact form said, “Hey I notice you were talking about this” or “I noticed you commented on Chris Brogan’s blog” or “thank you so much for telling me about that Guy Kawasaki post”. So, I was promoting other people. And, a lot of people don’t like promoting other people’s sites because their mentality is to promote their stuff only. And so I was trying to become a resource of information or “mavens” like in the book “The Tipping Point”. I’m more like a connector or salesman but if you can become that resourceful person, people will start to become drawn to you and watch for your tweets because they know the information you provide, as they’re scrolling through the streams, is worth paying attention. And as I was consistently replying to people, more people rode on my bandwagon and started to reply to some of the things I was asking for. And so with social media, especially Twitter if you can 1) be resourceful but 2) have the ability to cluster or group together — a little community within a community and connect other people to each other just by conversation, you’re seen as the life of the party ie the one that gets people together. In marketing, it’s underrated  and no one sees the value of those people going out there and drawing crowds together in social media. People in social media, for the most part, are non-spammers and they like connecting with other people and if you can be that person that brings everyone together you raise your level of influence and credibility. So as I started to do that, my Twitter following rapidly started growing and after I hit that thousand mark it started growing a lot faster. The thousand mark is a rule of thumb. And I try to tell people to try to get to that thousand but do it in an ethical way. Start with relevant conversations, not forced conversations, very casual conversations with influencers in your niche. The influencers in my niche included Jeremiah Owyang, Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki. And when these guys start to tweeted about me (they have 10,000 – 20,000 followers)  I started to pick up their followers because they assume that whoever Guy’s talking to must be legitimate. I wasn’t afraid to connect with the giants, if you will, in my community.

HJ: Interesting approach to get to the influencers and that was exactly what I was trying to do when my company first launched our video product. I wanted to get Guy Kawaski’s attention so I took his video “The Art of the Start” and I created an overlay using our tool. Through Twitter, I sent him the URL trying to nudge his ego a bit and demonstrated how he could promote his video on other sites using our tool. And he responded that it was really cool. And later on as I started talking more about it, he started perceiving this more as a pitch – which it was—and this was me earlier on trying to understand how to connect with people of this stature. Regardless, it really put him off and afterward he started to back off and he didn’t say anything to me. There’s a lot to be said about that because if he doesn’t continue then you know you’ve done something to sour the conversation.

AR: And these people are very savvy. E.g. Are you familiar with the networking community, Direct Sales? A guy comes up and says “I have this great appetite suppressant green tea from China that totally will help your” but in trying to help someone out it’s still a pitch regardless of whether you have the relevant solution. But contrary to what you did with Guy, I knew he was really passionate about Alltop and I know he’s focusing on that right now and so I sent him a message letting him know I had an idea for topics for Alltop. I asked him how he preferred I send it. In the meantime, I pointed him to my blog and requested, “if you deem it worthy to put into Alltop, please feel free to add it.”  Within 12 hours he said, “You’re on marketing.alltop.com” and I’ve been getting traffic from there since. And I also gave him an idea regarding Ustream because at the time they were the only live stream video company that has an RSS feature. Guy gave me his personal email address along with his assistant’s and I sent him an email and asked, “Do you have an RSS for all the good live streams.” He inquired about tracking and I said, “Well, an idea is get the RSS and we’ll find out, through Business Development at Ustream, which shows are the most trafficked.” Long story short, Guy is now on the board of advisors of Ustream. And he’s going to be implementing http://allstream.alltop.com and forever Guy will know that I’ve added value to him and there were no strings attached for me. As I said earlier, sometimes you’ll get the short end of the stick and you’ve got to willing to be ok with that. Some people say, “If I’m not gonna win or I’m not gonna get the better end of this deal, I at least have to have 50/50“. That is the wrong attitude. You have to be willing to give value to people’s lives and their businesses with no strings attached. And so that’s what I do with guy. Sometimes I email Guy some ideas about Alltop and I’ve built a really good relationship there and I haven’t asked him for anything yet. And that’s what I’ve done with Twitter. I get more traffic from Twitter than I do Google.

HJ: What do you think about display ads? The Yahoo!s of the world are out there and they’ve banked on display advertising but considering the explosion of social media is it worth speculating about its sustainability down the road?

AR: Using it to market or offering it on your site?

HJ: As a traffic driver for advertisers.

AR: Absolutely. I was just at an event in Minnesota where I spoke. But it was here where I mett Carlos & Lupe Garcia (who are doing deals with Yahoo! And Myspace). They buy traffic in bulk and buy banner advertising and these guys are generating $1-$2MM a month. Now Yahoo! Has in-house banner ads that are taking up inventory that essentially should be sold to advertisers – remnant inventory. So these guys are buying crazy remnant inventory in bulk, on credit and basically converting it.  I believe SEO is changing and I think it’s going be a little bit less relevant or not as effective in the next year or two. You’re going see this banner stuff increasing. Based off of this conversation I had with them — I was in a room with Carlos and Lupe til’ 1:00 in the morning trying to comprehend how they’re making this type of money and they said to me, “Don’t even worry about Google. Google is a small slice of a really big pie.” And I started to think about that and it made total sense. And all these social media sites, when they’ve grown to a certain point, are starting to implement ad systems – Facebook, MySpace. At Facebook, you can get 5cents CPC. The conversions still aren’t the best. But if you would have asked me last week I would’ve said SEO is the way to go but they really blew my mind with banner advertising. I did some research on them and I talked to some of my friends who were SEOs and they all believe that things are shifting and with social media. Old-school SEO  was all about doing backlinks and on-page and off-page titles, incorporate negative key words, descriptions etc. and you waited for traffic to come to you. But I’m the type of guy whose very aggressive so I want to go where the traffic is at. All the traffic right now is on social media and social networks so it almost makes sense for big advertisers to recognize these things and try to advertise on these sites. I don’t know the HOW but if you can figure out a system or a way to make it convert and have a very good ROI then incorporating banner advertising with social media is only going to get bigger. And SEO is gonna change a little bit.

HJ: It’s interesting what you said because social media and SEO are intertwined. And when people search, social media sites come up first in the rankings more often than some of the official sites themselves. So you can’t really have one without the other.

AR: Yes, you have to have both. I’ve barely done any link building and I’m getting good traffic. But for social media I believe you need a blog. I refer to a blog as a nervous system – a cornerstone of a good social media campaign. So instead of purchasing a popular keyword, go find the long tail key words that are getting 100-200 searches a day. And create interesting content/titles with those key words and phrases. And if you get 2-5 clicks a day and you have a 100 different blog posts you’ve just netted 500 clicks from long-tail key words. So long-tail is better long term but making money online or home-based business or work from home or most popular key words — well you’ll just be doing a Google dance forever. But if you incorporate link building (which Google relies heavily) with long-tail key words you’ll see a greater beneft. A friend of mine has a site called SEOCLUB.com and he tracks data from 300 different servers and he says link building based on the SEO process is about 50% of the formula and I agree you have to have both. I’m not doing a lot of advertising right now and I eventually want to but for people just starting out, especially small businesses, you have to take baby steps. Because most of them who hear about Twitter will say, “How am I going to make money talking to people?  How am I gonna monetize this? Where is my ROI?” They want results right away.” Banner ads will always be there but they have to recognize this new space as well.

More to come….

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