Takeaways: Social Media, Story Time, and a Deck of Cards

By: Matt Turner,
Writer and Entrepreneur

There were certainly a lot of lessons learned in the Shark Tank this week for both the entrepreneurs on the show and the fans watching. Here are some of the Key Takeaways from this week's episode (Season 5, Episode 15):

1. SMO & the Changing Landscape of Social Media

Entrepreneur: Susan Peterson
Company: Freshly Picked
Proposal: $150,000 for 10%

Susan Peterson, who came into the Shark Tank asking for an investment for her baby shoe moccasin company, beautifully portrayed the opportunities available to all entrepreneurs through Social Media Optimization (SMO).

Here's a brief look at some of her statistics:

- 1,500 new Instagram followers per week
- 10% conversion of Instagram followers to paying customers
- Projected $2 to $3 million in 12 months sales from Social Media alone

People don't want to connect with ideas. They want to connect with people around ideas. Ideas are just a bridge to people. As an entrepreneur, you have to ask yourself: how am I engaging with the people that fuel my ideas?

Whether you are trying to drive revenue, conduct market research, or build a brand, Social Media plays a crucial role in connecting with the people that are the lifeblood of your business.

The old SEO strategy centered around one primary factor: Link Building. But today, Google has found smarter ways to measure the popularity of your website: it's called Social Media.

It's no longer about building X amount of links and creating Y amount of optimized content pages on your website. These antiquated techniques are very static and Google's Hummingbird update has rendered them nearly obsolete.

Google has been forced to turn to social media channels which do the same thing but are much harder to manipulate. Link building was always about social proofing. The new strategy is about being dynamic, engaging, and interactive within your marketplace. Social media is the only place you can make that happen.

When you have a following on Twitter or Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, you create a team of fans who can share your content. This essentially allows you to "crowdsource" your link building. When you write a new blog post on your business blog, you can take that content and share it on Twitter and allow some of your followers to share your content.

There is a cultural paradigm shift going on here. People in their 20's have used social media all their lives. This is the main place they go to research businesses and organizations, and to obtain real-time information and testimonials about their needs and wants.

As a business owner or online marketer, it is essential to understand the changing landscape and to connect with your customers more directly and more intimately than ever before.

2. Be an "A" Player

Entrepreneur: Phil Black
Company: FitDeck
Proposal: $300,000 for 20%

"Goldman Sachs, Harvard, Yale, a Seal, FitDeck. I'm so impressed I probably want to do the deal just cause of you. I probably will get a financial adviser, a professor, a bodyguard, and a trainer all at the same time." -Daymond John 

"Your resume is very impressive. Perhaps the best we've seen on Shark Tank. It doesn't equate to a deck of cards. You are destined for much greater things than this. I'm giving you a free pass to come back through the doors of the Shark Tank with the next idea; and I think everybody else here would do the same. This is not it." -Mr. Wonderful

Commit to continually developing yourself and you'll always have people who want to invest in you. However, it does not substitute the need for a great idea and a great business.

3. Create Your Story

Entrepreneur: Susan Peterson
Company: Freshly Picked
Proposal: $150,000 for 10%

Susan's Story:

"When I first started I didn't have any money. My husband was in school and we were really, really poor. My brother owns a window installation business, and so I convinced him one summer to give me all the old windows he took out. And I spent the whole summer out there during that time in the heat, banging the glass out of those windows with the aluminum frames. I took those frames to the scrapyard at the end of the summer and I got $200. I was able to buy one hide of leather which makes about 40 moccasins and I just continually put it back in. And that's why we had kind of a slow start."

Mark Cuban's response:

"That literally is the best story to start a company that I have ever heard. Your story should be in every business book, should be in every entrepreneur's guide; you personify the American Dream of saying 'get off my butt and let's go out there and get it done'."

Every start-up has an incredible story. What is yours?

*Quote of the Week*:
"I look at my money as gasoline: I want to pour it on something that I already understand how it works. I just add money, I make more money. That's what I love." -Kevin O'Leary