Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Blog Archives | Crackerjack Marketing Blog

What would a social media agency be without social media marketing blog posts? The Crackerjack Marketing team doesn’t just “dabble” in social media. We live and breathe it everyday at work, at home and everywhere in between. We don’t simply analyze, theorize and make recommendations (though, that certainly is part of what we do); we practice what we preach.

Grab a cup of coffee and get cozy with our social media marketing blog archives. Since we’ve been blogging about social media marketing for more than 7 years (just on this website alone!), there’s a lot of reading to do. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, just drop us a line and let us know.

If you’d like to find out more about how working with a social media agency can help your brand, please feel free to contact us through the chat window (down there, in the lower-right corner of your browser) or contact us by filling out this form.

how-to-advertise-on-snapchat

How to Advertise on SnapChat Like a Pro

how-to-advertise-on-snapchat

 

The online advertising world is getting increasingly complicated with a growing variety of platforms to choose from. Google and Facebook are the giants in the field: Google accounts for a 78% share of the total US search ad market and Facebook ads generated over $9 billion in revenue for the company in Q2 2017. However, marketers should be looking at other platforms, too, as they often have value with more precise targeting and specialized demographics.

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best tools for small business growth featured

The Best Daily Activity Tools for Small Business Growth

best tools for small business growth featured

In every niche market, the desire for growth among small businesses is ever present. Most people prefer to experience measurable growth as constantly as possible. However, if your daily activities are misaligned with the long-term goal of growing your business, that growth will continue to elude you for a long time to come.

Depending on the size of your business, you are probably wearing too many hats already. This means that with each passing day, you could have multiple responsibilities in management, leadership, marketing, accounting, customer support and many others. Consequently, you feel helplessly trapped in busyness.

There is a limit to how many hours you can work each day. Add to this the reality other limited resources, especially money, and then your small business growth potential will remain untapped. This is where these tools for small business growth come into play. Beyond what is possible with your working hours, these tools help business owners like you to grow brand awareness, generate more leads, and increase sales volume and ROI.

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how-to-humanize-your-brand

How to Humanize Your Brand and Why You Need To Do It

how-to-humanize-your-brand

Whether your objective is to grow an audience for your blog, sell a product, or provide a service, you first need to build trust. If you want people to come to you for your travel tips or sign up for your online course, you need to give them a reason to choose you over the sea of other options out there. It sounds like this could be quite the difficult task, huh? Well, that’s not necessarily the case as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

If you’re ready to open up and be transparent, not only about your brand but also the person or people behind the brand, you’re going to have a lot more success.

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Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring Interns Costs More Than You Think

Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring an intern can seem like a win-win situation. You get cheap labor for handling your social media, and the candidates for your internship are likely to be digital natives. On top of that, you get the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with helping another person learn and gain experience that may help him or her secure a high-paying job one day. Before you jump for joy at your free or super cheap social media intern prospects, consider that there is a dark side to this arrangement. It’s highly likely your interns cost more than you originally thought they would. Read more

Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions

Video Captions: Not Just for Watching CNN at the Gym

Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions

Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions

These days the idea of making your content “mobile friendly” is top-of-mind for many of us in the content-generation business, but are you also thinking about making it as “people-friendly” as you can? You probably already know that as a best practice you should strive to make sure that your content is accessible to as many people as possible, but you may not be considering captions as part of that accessibility strategy. Here’s why you should.

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Social Media is More than a Part-Time Position

Can you use a part-time social media manager to achieve your online marketing goals? Will hiring a part-time social media manager be enough to acheive your goals?  Isn’t social media marketing simply making announcements to a network of people who have signed on to receive your news and tidbits? Isn’t it simply sharing links, images, and videos you find interesting or inspirational? Or is it all about building relationships and finding ways to engage with your prospects and customers? These things are definitely part of social media marketing, but they don’t tell the whole story.

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The Anatomy of a Social Media Policy

Your Corporate Social Media Policy

The Anatomy of a Social Media Policy

As a business owner, marketing manager, or executive, you may wonder if your company needs a social media policy. After all, nearly everyone we know uses a Facebook account, and lots of people are Instagramming photos of their families, or posting this weekend’s party on Snapchat. How do you protect your business when your staff are loose on the social web? Smart businesses have social media policies which govern the actions of employees in social media, whether on behalf of the company or while on their own time.

Most social media policies are crafted primarily with company protection in mind.  I’d argue that an equally important goal of your policy should be to eliminate confusion on the part of employees, making it safe for them to engage in social media without constantly asking for guidance (or fouling up). Therefore, a good social media policy needs a number of key elements in order to make it easy for employees to follow and clear for HR and executives to interpret. Even if you already have a policy, perhaps it’s worth checking to be sure you’re covering the following eight points.

 

 

1. Your Social Media Policy Establishes the Face of Your Company

The first part of your social media policy should cover protecting the company. You’ll want to document who is approved to speak on behalf of the company in social media. This could be anyone, or it could be only those people who have been specifically certified or trained to do so – and possibly only people who have been trained in your brand voice. You will probably want to think of social media in the same way as traditional media; after all, you wouldn’t allow just anyone to do a TV interview on behalf of the company, so why would you allow anyone to tweet for the company? And by “approved to speak,” you might mean in any instance – even the most basic of customer service issues may need to go through your approved social media team.

2. New Social Accounts

Make it clear who is authorized to create social media accounts for the company. Although you have likely already established your Facebook page and other social presences, someone in your organization might have a notion down the road that their branch or product line needs a Twitter account of its own. In order to keep things coordinated, perhaps state that all new social presences require approval and specify where that approval must come from.

3. Employee Personal Content

Set some boundaries for personal content. You probably don’t care whether your staff tweets about their kids or their knitting, so help them to see where the line is between work content and personal content. Some policies suggest that as long as employees are not talking about company-related topics, everything else is fair game.

4. FTC Endorsement Guidelines

Realize that staff do want to talk about their work – after all, they spend a lot of time thinking about work topics and it occupies a large part of their day. But you don’t want your employees to run afoul of the FTC Endorsement Guidelines, pumping up the reputation of your brand without full transparency into their relationship with the company. So include in your policy some info on how to incorporate industry or company information into their own conversations, without running afoul of the FTC rules. This could mean that they have to state their company affiliation in their social profile (but that their opinions are their own), or that they should indicate (#employer, or with an explanation and a link) in their tweets or personal blog posts.

If you’re part of an agency or consultancy that serves multiple clients, the same FTC rules apply, only your employees will need to disclose client posts with #client or an appropriate explanation and link.

5. Employee Advocacy

Do you want your staff to amplify your social messaging – retweeting your content or posting your blog posts to Facebook when it’s appropriate for their audiences? If so, clarify this point and help your team to do so; to streamline this process, you can use employee advocacy tools like Bambu, Circulate.it, or GaggleAMP. But be wary of requiring sharing of staff; it’s really not appropriate to ask people to use their personal profiles for business, and it could reflect badly on your company if it looks like you’re making your staff spam their family and friends with your corporate messaging.

6. What’s Off Limits?

Some content may be totally off-limits for any employee posting anywhere. This probably includes confidential information, posting anything negative about a competitor, or posting anything that could infringe on intellectual property laws, at minimum. While this may all seem obvious, put it in the policy anyway.

7. Customer Service & Employee Feedback

Give employees an outlet for passing along information they see in social media that they feel should be responded to. At the very least, providing an email address to the PR or customer service department within the policy will be a valve release for employees which may prevent them from trying to respond on their own.

8. Be Professional!

Remind everyone about the importance of professionalism and respect for others. This seems to go without saying, but why not put it in writing, just in case? Those videos of the company holiday party with the boss in the lampshade probably won’t be good for your corporate image.

A good  social media policy does not constrain your employees’ personal self-expression, but makes it obvious for them where to draw the line. Review some examples of corporate social media policies, work with HR or legal as necessary, and codify something that relieves the stress of “should I or shouldn’t I?” for your staff, while providing you peace of mind.

Have other thoughts about what a social media policy should include? Please share your ideas in the comments.

7 Tips for Success in Social Media

“Keep it simple” is good advice when it comes to most things business related, and that includes social media. Why, you ask? Well, the fact of the matter is that some of the simplest things can influence your success with social media. However, it’s also the simple things that many business people overlook or forget to do on a regular basis.

For example, it is simple to share information that is of interest to your audience, striving to make their lives better, easier, or more entertaining rather than posting repeatedly about your business and what makes it so great. That’s simple but good advice, yet it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we should always push our products and services. Unfortunately, constantly pushing our offerings backfires in a really big way. Likewise, there are many other ways in which the simplest of things threaten to trip up even the most-savvy business people. But, no worries. We’re here to help you avoid falling into some surprisingly simple social media traps.


Here are seven tips for ensuring your social media success, even as you strive to keep things simple:

  1. Don’t try to be all things to all people. There are just enough popular social media platforms to make it easy to spread yourself too thin. You figure you need to be on Facebook because everyone is there. But then you get to thinking you should be on [Insert Other Semi-Popular Social Media Network Here]. Then there’s that new social media network you just heard about (there’s always something new in the pipeline), and shouldn’t you be there too? It would be great if you could do everything really well at the same time, but the fact of the matter is that the quality of your presence and interaction with your audience is significantly diminished when you try to be everywhere. That’s the bad news. The good news is you really don’t need a presence on every network to reap the benefits of social media. Instead, figure out where the majority of your audience is, go there, and establish a strong presence on that social media network. If you hear how great a particular platform is, but your audience isn’t there, why should you be? Focus your efforts.
  2. Do branch out a bit when it makes sense for your business. Though you really don’t need to dominate every social media network out there, it’s also a bad idea to restrict yourself to just one. As mentioned in the previous tip, you want to be where your audience spends its time. It makes sense to research which social media networks are most frequented by your audience, and then concentrate on those particular social media networks. In general, most businesses can gain good ground by establishing a presence first on Facebook and then on Twitter and LinkedIn. Once you have that firmly in hand, you might choose to branch out to other platforms that cater to a significant number of your audience members if, and only if, doing so will truly help you engage your audience. If not, you’re probably just wasting time and energy. You’re looking for ROI here rather than simply the chance to see and be seen.
  1. Don’t restrict yourself to social media only. Social media can be a large and critical part of your marketing efforts, but it isn’t the only thing on which you should spend your time. Email marketing is still an important part of the marketing mix, and it’s a mistake to nix email in favor of social media. Instead, it’s a good idea to start your conversations on social media and engage your audience there, but when the time comes for a more in-depth conversation, take advantage of email to further the relationship. And don’t forget that telephone calls and in-person meetings can also help solidify a relationship you initiated via social media. Likewise, emails can be a great vehicle for sharing news and promotions and reminding past customers that you still have what they need. Keep in mind that some of your followers probably miss a significant portion of your posts. Let’s say a past customer hasn’t seen your posts in a bit. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, not in this case, because you send a monthly email newsletter that reminds your customers that they need more of [Insert Product Here] and can’t do without your excellent service.
  1. Do use hashtags. You want people to easily find your posts. When they go looking for relevant information, you want them to find you. Hashtags make it possible for people who are searching for what you have to offer to find you. And that’s not all. Not only do hashtags make it easier for you to target a specific audience, but they also make it easier for you to monitor what others are saying about your business and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing (so you can strategize ways to better serve the same audience that they are targeting).
  1. Don’t post willy nilly. Your messages should suit not only your unique audience but also the network on which you’re posting. To save time, you may consider posting the same message to all your social media networks. Don’t do this. Some types of posts that do really well on one social media network may not fly on another. And if your audience follows you on more than one platform, it could be super-annoying for them to see the same posts popping up in multiple feeds. Instead, take note of the types of messages that work best on each network, tailor your content to the specific platform, and vary your messages.
  1. Do track, monitor, and measure everything you do on social media. Time truly is money, and it’s a waste of time to fly by the seat of your pants on social media. You need to monitor and measure if you want to learn what works and how it’s helping your business. Move forward with the efforts that get you the results you want, and reduce or stop the efforts that aren’t helping you meet your goals. Have a new, potentially game-changing idea? Don’t blindly run with it, pushing forward even when the results are disappointing. Instead, test, test, test, and tweak, tweak, tweak!
  1. Be true to yourself and your audience. No one likes a phony, and your social media success is dependent on people liking you enough to pay attention to your posts. Even virtually, people can spot a fake from a mile away. Being likable is important, as people want to do business with people they like, but trying too hard to be someone you’re not is a recipe for disaster. Go ahead and be yourself, be genuine, and let your audience catch a glimpse of the person you really are. While you’re at it, consider sharing a video of you talking about your business, sharing some valuable information, working hard to produce for your customers. This helps your audience feel personally connected to your business, a feeling that is worth its weight in gold.

Strategies needn’t be complicated to serve you well. Apply the simple tips above to your social media efforts and meet your goals faster. What simple strategies have helped your social media marketing efforts? Share with us in the comments!

7 Tips for Sucess in Social Media

Social Media Tools for Collaboration, Organization and Creation We Love (and Use!)

This post was co-authored by Christina StricklandCori Jacobs, and Lesley Lloyd.

If you’ve attended any of our social media training sessions, you’ve heard us compare growing social media presences to building a house before. We’ve talked about how you need to build a solid foundation and then the right layers on top of that.

Because construction analogies come easily to me, let’s just roll with, shall we?

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A Lesson in Rebranding from Snapchat

A Lesson in Re-Branding from Snap (Snapchat)

A Lesson in Rebranding from Snapchat

Yes, you read the title right, Snapchat is now Snap. A change of name in the fall told us that the brand is now planning on expanding itself to be more than a messaging network. Since its creation in 2011, Snap has been interesting, unique, entertaining, and fun! You know about the filters (maybe you have used the dog filter a time or two), the disappearing pictures, videos, and chats, the compilation of stories, memories, ads, spectacles, and discovering other news and current events.

Rebranding became necessary to Snapchat in the fall of 2016. You might find yourself in the same shoes now. You can’t hide from rebranding (and that’s a good thing), and you can’t ignore it. If you feel the pressing need to rebrand and don’t know where to start, take a page out of Snapchat’s book on the matter.

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Twitter Hacks for Content Marketing

8 Twitter Hacks for Better Content Marketing

Twitter Hacks for Content Marketing
Often, business owners try Facebook out as their first venture into social media marketing. They know they need to have a Twitter presence too (because their audience is there), but they often drag their feet, finding Twitter intimidating or believing it’s complicated. The truth is Twitter is no harder to use than Facebook; it’s simply different. But no worries; we have you covered. Here are 8 Twitter hacks to make successful tweeting easier:

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The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

If you’ve been on Twitter for an extended period of time, you’ve seen a Twitter chat and party or two. Maybe you’ve participated in or hosted one or two! It’s one of the ways brands and businesses are connecting on Twitter. Most importantly, chats and parties are a direct connection to your current audience and to the audience you’re trying to reach. We’ve had tremendous success in hosting Twitter parties for some of our clients! Our efforts yielded participation rates of up to 233 (averaging 185 per party) people and 8,194 tweets in just one hour!

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alternatives to vine

Alternatives to Vine (and What to do When a Channel Gets Shut Down)

alternatives to vine

Twitter through some of us for a loop (pardon the pun) at the end of October, by announcing the closure of Vine, its 6-second video app. This is big news whether you loved and/or were involved with Vine or not. Twitter is now refocusing, and we can’t wait to see what that looks like. In the meantime, social media marketers who have made an investment in the app now need to take serious steps in another direction. If the Vine stars we knew, loved and laughed at can move on, then you can, too. This is a great time for you to revisit your social media strategy to make sure that you have a backup plan if you used Vine, and to make sure the rest of your channels are covered in case one of them bites the dust.

Alternatives to Vine

If you have to say goodbye to Vine, wipe your tears and start looking at other channels. You don’t have to look far; you just have to look at what works best for you and your brand.

1. Snapchat

Snapchat is at the top of the list, and rightfully so. This app is certainly a challenge seeing as they don’t have a follower count or a follower recommendation feature, however, its popularity and 150 million users makes it the app you want to be on. The audience is large, and the demographics mostly include millennials, so how can your brand get started and maintain usage on Snapchat? Interact either directly through stories and chatting, or through special features and advertising! Just like Vine, you can download your stories, so you don’t lose them after 24 hours.

Should you use it?

Maybe. Snapchat mainly reaches millennials, so if you also want to reach that age group of 18 – 24 year-olds, then you need to be on Snapchat. If you’re not sure, keep an eye out. If you’re not using it now, you might be in the future.

2. Instagram

Instagram has also jumped on the stories train, so if Snapchat doesn’t work for you, try Instagram (or both!). The one-up Instagram has on Snapchat is its users base: 500 million. You’ll find a wider range of demographics on Instagram. If cosmetics is part of your goal, Instagram stories look better because of the higher image quality, but they load slower causing people to stop viewing after the 1st or 2nd story. If you’re a brand, the load time is crucial. You will also find ads and private messaging as a viable interaction tool.

Should you use it?

Yes! Or maybe. Again, it depends on your goals and your audience. If you’re already on Instagram, why not give it a try? Compare and contrast with Snapchat to get the best look for your brand.

3. Facebook

Vine might not have been live, but live video is certainly taking over the social world. If you’re considering going live with your posts (and still being able to keep them for later) start with Facebook. They’re adding more Snapchat-esque features like masks (or filters) in addition to enhancing the appearance of their video feature and giving their videos a more interactive feel. Live video gives you the permission to be authentically you without editing. Give a tour, stream an event or an opening; show off a product or a demonstration of one. As people react to your stream, comment back to them! Ads haven’t made their way into video yet, but there’s still time.

Should you use it?

Yes! Facebook is where your audience is. Let them know when you’ll be broadcasting, and you’ll have hundreds if not thousands of eyes on you. That’s great advertising! My sage advice before you “go live” is this: think before you do. Make sure you have a plan beforehand, so people aren’t watching you bop around aimlessly.

4. Periscope

Twitter hasn’t gotten rid of all of its video sources. Periscope is still kicking and still growing. Even though broadcasts disappear after 24 hours, it’s the latest and greatest for real-time marketing. One of the noteworthy aspects of using Periscope for live video is that it’s not limited by location. Your users can find you from anywhere in the world to see what you’re seeing.

Should you use it?

Maybe, probably yes. I’d like to repeat what I said for Snapchat: if you’re not using it now, you might be in the future. Usually the phrase, “everyone is doing it” isn’t the most positive of points, but when it comes to social trends, I live by it. Everyone is on Periscope, so you should be, too.

What to do When You Lose a Channel

Picture this: It’s 2008 and MySpace has been taken over by Facebook. How many of you hung on for dear life until the last possible second before reluctantly switching over to Facebook? So did I. Change can be hard and the opposite of fun, especially if you’ve invested time, money, energy, and strategy into a social channel just to lose it. My challenge to you is not to think of it as a loss, but a breath of fresh air to your strategy.

This is easier said than done because losing a social network can feel a lot like being dumped, can’t it? Sometimes it’s unexpected and leaves us with more questions than answers (especially when you find out you’ve been ‘broken up with’ by reading an article on the internet. Yikes!). If Vine could talk it would be saying, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And it’s true.

Go back to the drawing board to make the necessary adjustments in your strategy. Make sure you know how to move your content from one network to another. Download and save as much as you can to make it shareable on the other existing channels. Chalk it up to experience, brush the dust off, and move on. The closing of Vine is the picture perfect example of why social networks can’t be your only investment in social media. You’re borrowing someone else’s space, and it could go away in a second. Your owned space is your blog, and social media should be adding to that space, not vice versa. Keep that in mind and from now on you have a safety plan in place to protect your content and make a smooth transition whether a channel closes, or you have to leave one yourself.

Moving Forward

Vine is a great loss to many social media users and managers. If you were active on Vine, grab your videos and remember them in a positive light! Then, create a new strategy in case of emergencies and keep researching. Start looking into Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Periscope as a place your videos can call home. Thankfully, there are many options (and more to come) as apps grow, evolve, and new ones are added!

Were you on Vine? If so, where are you moving to next? Does your social media strategy include an emergency plan in case of a shutdown? Let us know!

How to Better Understand Customers

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

“How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World” is co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland”

With the majority of adult Internet users spending time on social media sites, it’s no surprise that social media is such an important way to get your audience’s attention and connect with those in need of your products and services. But if there is one thing many businesses have learned the hard way, it’s that talking at your audience simply doesn’t work. That sort of strategy (or lack thereof) results in your message becoming a part of the online background noise.

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Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media

Creating Brand Voice on Social Media

Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media

“Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Every brand needs a strong brand voice. What is brand voice, you ask? Essentially, it’s the tone and style you use when communicating with your audience. Your brand voice not only tells your audience who you are and what you have to offer, but also proves critical in engaging your audience members and motivating them. Your brand voice gives your audience a feel for your brand’s personality, and since the explosion and rapid growth of social media marketing, it’s become more important than ever before.

 

 

That Was Then

Years ago, before social media marketing gave us another highly effective way of reaching audiences, businesses broadcast mass marketing messages to consumers through radio, television and magazine ads. Consumers far and wide received the same generic message. That brief message was delivered in a 30 second spot or a half-page ad. Essentially, marketers used a handful of words to reach everyone.

It’s understandable that with those constraints, it was incredibly hard to show personality. Of course, there were ways to make it happen. If you had a large marketing budget to fund a high-end ad agency and lots of media spend, you could make an attempt at telling a story with consistent characters, celebrities, or rarely, a real person from the company (like Dave Thomas from Wendy’s).

The fact of the matter is that many brands simply didn’t have the budget to show personality, but showing personality is critical. Why? Well, think about it. Great brands stand for something, don’t they? You know what to expect when you walk into a McDonald’s, when you buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle, or when you call a customer service representative at Zappos. And when you’re talking to a representative of a brand on Facebook, via Twitter, or watching them in a video, you expect that person to speak with the brand’s voice.

Do you expect the NPR Twitter feed to sound snarky? Of course not! And as for the Gap Facebook page? If their posts came off sounding snooty and intellectual, you’d wonder if you’d somehow clicked into The Twilight Zone.

This Is Now

Today, businesses put lots of different people to work engaging on behalf of their brands on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, and more often than not, via a blog too. These people are checking in regularly, answering questions, sharing inside stories, personally recognizing individual customers, inspiring their audiences and becoming an integral part of the community they serve. This differs greatly from the radio spots and display ads of yesterday. Each one of these representatives must use their specific brand’s voice every single day.

As an entrepreneur who started a business based on your own passion and interest in your product, service or company, your brand voice is probably part of the natural way you talk to your consumers. It’s easy for you to talk and write in your brand voice. With social media as such an important part of your marketing strategy, however, you need others in your organization to engage with your audience using that same brand voice and do so not only convincingly but also consistently.

Build Your Brand Voice

Every tweet, every Facebook status and every blog post says something about your brand. Everything you post sends a message about who you are, what you care about and how much you care about your fans or followers.

  • Define your brand voice. Your team can’t use it if they don’t know what it is. Is your brand voice bold, inspiring, humble snarky, playful, sassy, loud, or honest? Clearly define your unique brand voice so that your team can speak and write with it.
  • Take a look at the competition and their brand voices. Differentiate your brand voice enough that you stand out from the competition.
  • Listen to your audience members. How do they speak and write? Make sure your brand voice is a good match for them. You don’t want to speak in a highly formal voice if your audience is very casual or playful.
  • Document the words, phrases and tone that you expect your brand voice to sound like. Your team will be much more effective if you provide them with guidelines and examples to follow.
  • Guide your team in writing tweets, social media posts, and blog posts in your unique voice. This will take some work on your part at first, but eventually, your team will begin to think in your brand voice, and writing in it will become second nature. Keep a close eye on their work until you’re fully comfortable that they’re speaking and writing in the right voice for your brand.

Protect Your Brand Voice

It’s critical to both recognize that your brand voice isn’t static and protect your brand voice at the same time. Your brand voice isn’t meant to be perfect and stay exactly the same over the years. It will, and should, evolve with your audience and changes in your goals and strategies. That’s okay and to be expected. What’s not okay is a team that goes off the rails and fails to communicate using your brand voice.

Address and correct mistakes consistently. It’s never a good idea to leave your brand voice in the hands of others without close oversight. People make mistakes, and if you don’t offer constructive feedback, they will continue to make them. Remember, your reputation, and ultimately, your success is at stake, so it’s up to you to keep your team on track.

Establish a Brand Character

For as much as you’re paying attention to brand voice, you’ll also want to project the right brand character, which is an image your audience will have of you based on your brand voice and the way you use social media.

So what’s your brand character and are you moving in the right direction? You can learn a lot from looking through your past updates in each of your social media channels. It doesn’t take long to notice that a pattern begins to develop based on your timing, tone of voice and types of content. Each of these combined together becomes your brand’s character.

Unfortunately, some characters are bound to miss the mark in social media. For example:

The Magician

This character has an amazing disappearing act! He’ll post, maybe even a few days or months in a row, and then ‘poof! He’s gone! You never know when he’ll reappear, but he does at some point.

The Infomercial Guy

You’ve got to buy my stuff! Seriously, have you seen all the great things my stuff can do? You can’t live without my stuff! While those may not be his exact words, that’s the message. His updates are constantly self-promotional and non-stop!

The Motor Mouth

She’s constantly talking and most of the time it’s far off-topic. She’ll tell you what she had for lunch, what the weather is like outside and what her plans are for each moment of the day. Her updates are not well balanced with her brand’s identity.

The Radio Announcer

It’s a one-way conversation with this character. She loves to send out tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts, but don’t expect her to respond. She’s not out for conversation; she only wants to make sure you get his message!

The Right Brand Character

We’ve given you brand characters to avoid, and now, we’ll share the right brand character. This character almost always hits the target, delivering the right message, at the right time. We call her The Mindful Maven.

The Mindful Maven

Her messages are consistent, clear and well-balanced. You’ll find her sending updates about her brand, yes, but not nearly as often as sharing other content she thinks will be interesting and relevant to the fans that follow her brand. And while she’s not detailing out every moment of her day, she wants to chat with you too. You’ll find her responding to comments, answering questions and joining in the conversation.

As you start to create your brand’s identity in the social media space, be sure that your character most closely matches that of Mindful Maven. You should have your own unique personality, but you want to make sure you’re hitting that sweet spot every time!

Building and protecting your brand voice is a critical but ongoing process. Use the advice above to create the right voice for your brand and engage, motivate, and inspire your audience.

The Essential Guide for Startups Using Social media

The Essential Guide for Startups Using Social Media

The Essential Guide for Startups Using Social media

In years gone by, it was enough to create some business cards and set up a website, but today you need so much more. Today, your prospects are ever more social online, and your audience will expect to not only see you but also interact with you via social media. Too many startups view social media as an afterthought rather than an essential part of succeeding in business. They soon discover just how critical it is for encouraging interest, building a reputation and developing lasting relationships with potential customers Fortunately, you have this essential guide to help you start off on the right foot.

 

 

Choose the Right Startup Name

Choosing a name is one of the hardest tasks a new business will ever undertake. It’s easy to come up with names when you’re just dreaming of starting a business, but when it’s time to get started, nothing seems to feel quite right anymore. Why? Well, because there’s so much riding on this name. It has to be just right for your endeavor, and it has to be both catchy and memorable. It has to make an impression, reveal something about your company and inspire people to remember you. And as if that’s not enough, the name has to be available for use. Naming your business exactly the same name as another business can be a recipe for disaster.

Okay, breathe. Yes, it can be difficult, but you can do this. Go ahead and start with these great tips for naming your startup:

Get to brainstorming

Brainstorming is the first step in choosing the right startup name. This part is easy. Jot down a list of words that describe your startup. Don’t think too hard about this or even take it too seriously. The time for that will come later. For now, you just want a basic list with which to work. If you run out of words that fit, head on over to Thesaurus.com, and type in the words you’ve already jotted down. Add some synonyms for the words you brainstormed to generate an even longer list.

Review what you brainstormed

Start crossing the words you absolutely hate off your list. Next, review the list again and get rid of the ones you only like just a little. You should be left with the words that best describe your company. Play around with these words to see if you can use them to come up with a catchy startup name. For example, you might end up with the right name by combining two or three words on your list, or you might build your company name by making one word out of two, such as in Facebook and Firefox.

Consider how the name you’ve dreamed up sounds

Does the name you’re considering easily roll off the tongue? Does it include words that rhyme, such as in HotSpot? Is it fun to say? Does it evoke the types of feelings you want it to? Your name doesn’t have to rhyme or strike a fantastically melodious chord, but it should be easy to say. If it’s fun to say, that’s a definite bonus. Try different word combinations by saying them aloud several times before you choose, and have some friends try them out too.

***Hint: You will also need to choose a domain name, and it can really help to work on figuring out a business name and a domain name at the same time. Be sure to scroll down to the Choose the Right Domain Name section (next!) for tips.

Check on availability

There’s nothing worse than getting your heart set on the perfect startup name and then discovering that it’s already taken. Before you get too attached to that magnificent moniker, do an online search and make sure it’s not already taken. NameChk can help you with your search. Look for your desired name in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database as well.

Opt for creative and different

Some companies choose names that don’t mean anything or at least aren’t commonly used (Think Kodak and Google!). Others choose a word from a foreign language or select words for impact rather than meaning. This type of approach can really work for you as long as the name you choose will fit your brand image. In fact, a creative made-up or out-of-the-ordinary name can help you stand out in a sea of competition.

Choose the Right Domain Name Too

You probably thought you were finished after you chose a brilliant business name. Sorry! There’s still work to do. The right domain name is just as important as the perfect business name. Today, your prospects expect you to not only show up online but also prove easy to find. If your business name sets off fireworks, but your domain name is too obscure, difficult to spell, or impossible to remember, it could hurt you on the Internet.

Here are some tips for choosing the best domain name for your business:

Choose a domain name that is as close to your new business name as you can get
You may not be able to get AcmeWidgets.com, but maybe you can get AcmeWidgetsSeattle.com. Try different permutations of your business name, or add your location or another descriptor.

If at all possible, go for a .com domain

.com domains are still the most common and most used for business, at least here in the U.S. If you’re trying to match your existing business name, you can consider a .net, .co, .info or .us domain, but be aware that most people will still type in your domain name with a .com on it. Take some time to check and see who will be the beneficiary of all the traffic meant for you that ends up going elsewhere. If it’s your #1 competitor – don’t do it. Find something else with a .com domain.

Make it memorable, but not too long

One and two word domains are nearly impossible to get these days, unless you buy them from someone else (often through a broker like Sedo.com). So you may need to go to three words or more, but try to keep it as short as possible while being descriptive and memorable.

Spell it out

When you’re considering a new domain name, say it out loud a few times and try it out on other people. You’ll often tell people your domain in person or over the phone. If it’s a true pain to spell or explain, you’ll get really frustrated when people don’t get it. So instead of Widgets4U.com or Widgets-4-You.com, try to get WidgetsForYou.com. Or even better, WidgetsInWyoming.com. That’s far more descriptive and easier to convey all around.

Don’t rush it

This is an incredibly important decision. Don’t rush it, and don’t just grab the first domain that’s available. Check out tools like DomainNameSoup.com to play around with and try a bunch of different options. Try the multiple choices or word combinations functions.

Go with a reputable registrar

When you’re ready to buy your domain, use a reputable domain registrar, such as enom or Namecheap.

Make Social Media a Priority

Recognize that social media isn’t a mere add-on. It can be a critical component of getting noticed, meeting goals, and enjoying continuing success. Make it a part of your plans from the very beginning.

Develop a social media strategy

It’s perfectly fine to post willy nilly on your personal social media account. When it comes to your startup, however, it’s critical to start with a strategy that will help you meet your goals. Every post, share, and comment should fit that strategy and the image you want to project.

Set up social media accounts

Where do your prospects spend time? Find out and make sure you’re there too. Many startups begin with at least Facebook (over 1 billion users around the world) and Twitter (over 300 million monthly users around the world), but if a large segment of your audience is on Instagram, you want to make sure they can find you there. If your start up is B2B, you’ll definitely want to have a presence on LinkedIn while Facebook and Twitter are top choices for marketing to consumers.

Do create a company blog too, as this can prove your most engaging platform of all. With your blog, you have the opportunity to develop a strong brand personality via blog posts and videos.

Of course, this is a lot to accomplish all at once. Consider starting with one platform and developing that until you feel confident that you can manage and continue to grow that presence even after adding another platform into the mix.

Craft an amazing profile

Many startups set up social media accounts in haste, creating barebones profiles and generic avatars, thinking they’ll set up better profiles later. Don’t do this. You only get one time to make a great first impression. Your audience has other options, and when they find you online, you want them to feel sure that connecting with you is a good one. Start out with an attractive, eye-catching avatar that perfectly represents your startup, and create a profile that entices your audience to check you out.

Create an editorial calendar

Create an editorial calendar before you begin posting to your social media accounts, and update it regularly – either weekly, monthly or quarterly. Planning out your editorial content in advance takes away the “I don’t have time to write today” problem that most people have and makes publishing content as easy as queuing it up and clicking a button.

Develop social media that informs, explains, and answers questions before they’re asked

At first, you may not receive a lot of questions and comments. That’s okay! You’re brand new! However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t answer those unasked questions. Put yourself in the shoes of your average prospect and customer, determine what you would want to know in their place, and then create content that provides that information.

Avoid posting dry, dull content or being overly promotional

It doesn’t work to sell, sell, sell to your audience via social media. Instead, work on providing content that tells your story and helps make your audience members’ lives easier and more interesting. Be sure to make it engaging enough that people will want to consume it and pass it along.

Provide customer service via social media

Take advantage of social media to provide great customer service to your customers. Respond to their questions and concerns, offer real help when needed, and use your customers’ suggestions and comments to make your products and services better. Being responsive in this way can really give your startup a boost, encourage loyalty from your new customers, and show prospects that you’re a business they can trust.

Listen, interact and react

Devote time each day to monitoring your social media accounts, checking in at least a couple of times per day on each of your social media platforms. Tools like Hootsuite, Social Mention, and Talkwalker can help you monitor what others are saying about your brand.

Respond to comments, answer questions, share posts, and follow others. Being social helps you gain more exposure and encourages your audience to engage with you.

Use this guide to make real headway with social media for your startup. We’ve provided the basics you need to achieve success. Don’t be afraid to experiment as well, however. Creativity (within the bounds of a solid strategy) can win points on social media.

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How to Market Your Brand Using Live Video

how-to-use-live-video-to-marketing-your-brand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what does that mean for live video broadcasting via tools like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Facebook Live, and Blab? I’m going to say live video is worth a million words. Why? Well, as far as content marketing is concerned, we all know how important it is to educate and inform your audience in a way that is also entertaining. We also know how important it is to reach your customers where they spend time and encourage them to connect with your brand. Live video makes this easy.

How to Use Live Video for Marketing

Whether you use Periscope, Facebook Live, or Meerkat, live video allows you to share your brand in real-time. It makes it easier than ever before to provide your audience with a face-to-face experience, even if you’re halfway around the world. It allows you to tell stories, share, support, and teach where and when your audience needs it, offering an undeniably personal appeal and boosting engagement in a way static content never could.

Without question, live video is a big thing in content marketing, and it’s becoming ever more present with each passing month. Audiences are seeing more and more live content from brands, and they will expect you to offer it too. The last thing you’d ever want is to be left behind when your competition is offering loads of great live content, and you’re stuck in the social media dark ages.


Here are some solid ways to use live video as part of your content marketing strategy.

Provide Question and Answer Sessions

Some of the most useful written content answers an audience’s frequently asked questions. And though these written FAQs do come in handy, they can sometimes feel rather dry. Or even worse, it can be hard to make them stand out in the sea of written content out there. Enter the live video, and you have a way to grab your audience’s attention and keep it by providing those all-important answers in real-time. Better yet, live video allows you the opportunity to learn your audience members’ concerns and find out what interests them.

Tips: Do respond to viewers by name. Do answer questions that provide value for your audience. Don’t waste your time with trolls. Ignore and move on.

Let Your Audience Tune-in to Live Events

Is there an upcoming event of interest to your audience? Are you planning to soak it all in and then blog about it for your audience members who couldn’t be there? Why not just take them with you? When you share live events, your audience feels more connected to you and your brand. But that’s not the only benefit. You can also become their go-to person for announcements and news. They don’t have to be there because they know you’ll provide the scoop—live!

Tip: Move about and be sure to capture the most exciting moments and happenings. Your audience will be excited to tune in next time if they know your live video will tell a story and provide something unique and fresh.

Take Them Behind the Scenes

Who doesn’t love a look behind the scene? Use live video to enhance your brand’s story, showing your audience the unique way you do things, what your employees are up to, and even how you manufacture your product or provide your key services. Out in the community making a difference? Show and tell through live video!

Tips: Give your audience insight into things they wouldn’t normally see, and be responsive while doing it. Take the time to read and respond to comments while you’re live. Doing so makes for a much more personal experience.

How-Tos and Training

Is there something your audience needs to learn how to do? Can you teach them how to use your product or even show them other ways to make their lives easier, better, and more productive? Get busy showing them how to do it—live!

Tips: Inject a little personality. Seeing is believing, but there’s little worse than dry, boring accounts of how to get a job done. Keep it peppy and fun; crack jokes. Your audience will thank you for making learning fun.

Interviews

We talk a lot about providing that personal touch, and that’s because it truly is critical. Go ahead and interview key employees and let your audience see the faces and personalities behind the names. But don’t stop there. Interview your customers as well. Think of it as live testimonials for your brand. And don’t be afraid to branch out to interviewing industry experts as well.

Tips: Avoid asking the same tired questions your audience sees in every interview. Work on a unique angle, and research to find out just what your audience really wants to know.

Customer Support

So you already offer customer support by email and by phone? Maybe you even allow customers to reach out via chat as well. Give them that super-personal touch by allowing them to see you while you offer that top-notch support.

Tips: Set specific office hours for providing live customer support each week. Record sessions (respecting privacy, of course) to help other customers with the same issues.

How Are Brands Broadcasting Live Video?

In the past, Periscope was the way to go with live video for brands, but now you have a wealth of options to choose from, including the following:

Periscope: If you want a mobile app that allows you to stream around the world at any time, take a look at this one. Periscope has handy tools for sharing and engaging with your audience.

Meerkat: This app allows you to stream live from your mobile device. Head to Google Play or iTunes to grab it.

Snapchat: This app can be a good choice for quick, live video messages. It’s especially popular with Millennials and marketers marketing to other marketers.

Blab: Think of this one like Periscope—only for groups. Four people can go live at once with this one.

Facebook Live: For most brands, Facebook is an important social media tool. Now you can engage your audience anywhere in the world—live! Your videos are posted to your page for followers who couldn’t catch you live to catch you later.

Give live video a spin, incorporating it into your content marketing mix to grab attention and boost engagement. And be sure to announce when you plan to broadcast. While you can broadcast spontaneously, and there may be situations in which you want to, you’ll have more viewers if you generate some buzz first. Additionally, it can really help to save your broadcasts, when possible, and embed them into blog posts later!

What Brands Should Do on Instagram

21 Things Your Competitors Do on Instagram that You Don’t

What Brands Should Do on Instagram

Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception. What started off just trying to gain a foothold in the social media arena now has an incredible 400 Million+ people who are active on it monthly, and over three quarters of those users are in the United States. This is an important place to be if you’re serious about your brand. But the competition is fierce! There are many brands that have nailed it on Instagram.

This is both good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that, yes, like I just said, the competition is fierce. The good news is, you’re reading this blog post and we’re going to tell you exactly what they’ve done to become so popular.

Your Instagram Profile

It’s critical that you take your profile seriously. This is absolutely the wrong thing to approach halfway. Your profile gives your audience a snapshot of your brand–who you are, what your brand is all about, and why they should give you a second thought. Make it count.

  1. Choose a Killer Avatar


Take the time to choose an avatar that is not only eye-catching, memorable, and pleasing to the eye on desktop and mobile devices but also a spot-on representation of your brand. You can use your logo if it fits these requirements (and it definitely should), but some brands make featured products work for them on Instagram, even getting a sales boost out of the deal.

  1. Complete Bio

Take the time to craft a bio that will keep your audience’s attention and do a great job of accurately reflecting your brand. Instagram gives you only 150 characters in which to capture interest, so your bio really needs to pack a punch. Check out How to Write Good Instagram Bios to Make an Impression and 16 of the Best Brands on Instagram Right Now to gain insight on what really works.

  1. Public Profile

Be sure to set your profile to public. If you’re saying “Duh!” right now, just know that a significant number of people do forget this oh-so-important step. It’s absolutely fine to stay in stealth mode with your personal account, if that does it for you, but your brand account needs to see the light of day.

Strategy

As with many things in life, proceeding without a plan is a lot like planning to fail. To build your following and keep your audience interested, you need a solid strategy for giving your audience members what they want. Skip the photos of your dog (unless you’re brand is all about pets) and your plate. Your audience just doesn’t care. Don’t try to get away with blatant marketing either. It just won’t fly here and could actually work against your efforts to build a following.

  1. Deliver on Your Promise

You wrote a short but dynamic bio that gave people a reason to follow you. Now it’s time to

deliver the goods. Your Instagram content should entertain, inform, and tell the story of your brand. Without question, every post should be useful, and each one should contribute to your brand’s story, providing insight into what you’re all about.

  1. Tell Your Story

Everything you post should tell your audience something about your brand. What’s your story? What makes your brand unique? What’s your special flavor? Determine this first, and then make sure each posts fits into your story or helps you elaborate on it.

  1. Use an Editorial Calendar

Create an editorial calendar, so you can keep track of what you plan to post and when. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to post multiple times a day or even every day. You don’t want to bombard your followers’ feeds with your brand every second of every day, and it will, of course, take time to create the kind of quality, creative content we’re talking about here. Trying to post constantly could not only prove annoying for your followers but also result in low-quality, boring, or irrelevant images that turn your followers off in an entirely different way.

So just how often should you post? We don’t have that answer for your unique brand, but your audience sure does. Start with considering your audience and how often its members are likely to use Instagram as well as the type of content that will really grab your audience’s attention. Then, from there, consider not only how long it will take you to produce that content but also how often you can reasonably do so. With these times to hand, you may choose to post once per week or a few times a week.

  1. Be Consistent

While you don’t want to bombard your followers with your brand, all the time, consistency is key. When you do decide on a schedule, though, stick to it. Your audience will learn to expect content from you on a regular basis, and you don’t want to let them down.

Content

Post photos that are not only visually appealing but also sure to draw some laughs, provide inspiration, and/or just ensure a whole lot of fun while at the same time providing insight into your brand. Don’t try to get away with blatant marketing either. It just won’t fly here and could actually work against your efforts to build a following.

  1. Display Your Products

When you display your products on Instagram, your customers can window-shop without ever setting foot in the mall. Don’t overdo it by posting all of your products, but do go ahead and use it as a mobile display.

Here are some ideas for displaying your products on Instagram:

  •   Post products that are part of a collection.
  •   Post sale items.
  •   Post holiday offerings.
  •   Showcase your newest products, or share items that don’t typically get a lot of attention yet offer high value.
  1. Behind the Scenes

People love to see the reality behind a brand. Use Instagram to provide behind-the-scenes photos of the manufacturing process or to show off the equipment you use to make their lives easier. You can even show off photos of you hard at work planning to make your business better or preparing to deliver the top-notch service they expect.

  1. Demonstrate

You can tell your audience over and over again what you can do or how great your products are, but nothing beats a little show and tell. Audiences more readily believe what they can see with their own eyes. Post images that show how your product works or that demonstrate lesser-known uses for it. Provide before-and-after images to show how well your service works. Share images of people actually wearing or using your product. User-generated content can come in very handy here as well.

  1. Make it People Orientated

Social media is all about engagement, and how better to encourage your audience to feel connected to your brand than by showing off the people that make it tick. Showcase your staff at work in the office, breakroom hijinks, training sessions, and meetings and demonstrations. Post images of corporate events, workplace parties, and staff ballgames. Do your employees really deck out their cubicles? Share photos of these spaces via Instagram. This is your chance to show a little personality.

  1. Inspire

Your brand has a unique point a view. It has personality. Use graphics and quotes that are aligned with your brand voice and point of view to inspire and motivate your audience.

  1. Use Hashtags & Descriptions

Always create descriptions that are clear and concise, making that critical connection between the photo you’re posting and your brand and its message. Then, use hastags tags that make it easier for interested users to find your content. Use keywords that categorize your images, are always relevant, and indicate such things as theme, location, event, and subject matter. Don’t forget to use some popular, but definitely relevant, hashtags as well, such as the following:

#TBT (throwback Thursday)
#MuffinBreak
#photooftheday
#swag
#picoftheday
#food

Of course, there are a few don’ts too. Don’t just stuff your description with hashtags. While it’s generally accepted to use more here than on Twitter, you don’t want to go crazy. In fact, three seems to be the optimal number of hashtags for Instagram.

Grow Your Following

Slow and steady may win the race in some cases, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to your Instagram following. You want to capture your audience’s interest quickly! Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Run a Contest

Plan an Instagram contest that will appeal to your audience, and cross-promote it on your other social media accounts. Make it appealing enough, and some of the followers from your other social media accounts will head over to Instagram and follow you there too.

  1. Tell Your Customers

Let your audience know you’re on Instagram now. Send out an email announcement, and  share on your website and blog, in your newsletter, and on your other social media accounts.

  1. Tell Your Friends

Let your friends know you’re on Instagram. They many not only become some of your first followers but also help spread the word about your brand.

  1. Cross Promote

Post your Instagram logo on your website and blog and any other domains you own. Create call to actions to draw your audience in as well. Post your call to actions to your other social media accounts too.

  1. Use Hashtags

Use hashtags in all of your cross-promotions, contests, and announcements.

Engage Like a Boss

As you’ve heard from us time and time again, social media is social, so you should not only post but also engage. Without this critical component of your Instagram plan, you might as well be yelling into the wind.

  1. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize!

There’s a whole give-and-take thing that goes on with Instagrammers. Follow others who interest you on Instagram, and they’re likely to follow you back. But don’t just stop there–like and comment too. One caveat is that your comments should always be relevant and add something to the conversations. Otherwise, it’s just spam, and who needs more of that?

  1. Sharing is Caring

Sharing is a big part of engaging and interacting on any social platform, and social media is no exception. Just how do you share on Instagram, you might ask? Here’s the Right Way to Repost Instagram Photos gives you the skinny on getting the job done. Also, don’t forget to repost user-generated content that shows off your products. Just be sure to properly attribute the shared content.

  1. Call Them to Action

While you definitely don’t want to go for the big sales pitch on Instagram, you do want to encourage your audience to take critical next steps. Include a call to action in each of your posts. For example, it only takes a second to ask your followers to “like” your post if you’ve wowed them or they agree with something you’ve posted. And asking them to tag friends who might be interested can only increase your reach.

With these 21 tips at your disposal, you’re ready to take Instagram by storm. Instagram is a powerful tool, and when used well, can only help your brand achieve its social media goals. Put these strategies to work for you, and then be sure to come back and share your success with us in the comments.

21 Things Your Competitors Do in Instagram That You Don_t

How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

There are many benefits to working remotely. Even if you typically work in a traditional office, you’ve dreamt about escaping to work from somewhere else from time-to-time. This is the lifestyle we at Crackerjack Marketing have adopted and loved for a little over six years now: our team is 100% virtual, and we all work out of home offices (or sometimes on the road when we travel for business or pleasure). While we believe there are huge benefits to working remotely, we do rely very heavily on digital tools to help our team stay in touch and in sync with each other.

Simply put: the right tools help your company, your partners, and (if you’re an agency) your clients work together efficiently and effectively without having to be in the same place.

Four Tools for Virtual Team Collaboration

We are always looking into the next best website, app, or extension that will help us get the job done for our clients. New tools are always coming out, but I’m going to highlight four that have become a crucial and integral part of Crackerjack Marketing’s day-to-day work.

1. Slack

When working remotely (as with any work situation), communication is key. However, when you work remotely, you can’t walk down the hallway to ask your boss or a co-worker a question. In collaborative messaging app Slack, we’ve found the next best thing. Here are the two most important Slack features that our team uses regularly:

1. Channels: Slack offers three different types of conversation threads:

a. Team-wide “channels” can be created for each project, topic, client, or department to chat in, keeping conversations distinct. Team members or clients need only belong to the channel(s) that applies to them.
b. Private channels allow you to invite just a few members to keep your sensitive projects secret.
c. Direct messages provide a way for you to chat directly with a coworker; direct messages can also be set up for multiple people to chat together, outside of a team-wide channel.

Fun tip: Within any channel, jazz up your interactions by using GIFs. Add the Giphy app to Slack and type /giphy and a word or phrase such as “/giphy dance”. Giphy will pick a GIF that corresponds with the word or phrase. Since it’s random, try using the command a few times with Slackbot (a built-in helper app) and then share the one that fits best!

2. File sharing: Slack isn’t just for talking. Share files, images, PDFs, and documents directly in a channel. You can also connect files from DropBox and Google Drive (I’ll talk about these later). These files are indexed and archived automatically by Slack so you can easily search and find the one you’re looking for.

Slack is so much more than a messaging tool. It’s neat and organized, but allows for freedom. Create a channel for funny GIFs; create a channel for the most important project your team is working on; create a channel for interesting and relevant articles. Slack allows for the personality of your business (remote or not) to shine through in your every day communication.

2. Nozbe

Project management tool Nozbe is where we like to get things done. Since we don’t have face-to-face meetings, how do we know what’s going in current projects, and what new projects are being started? Nozbe, that’s how. It’s a task manager for projects big and small. Here are a few of our favorite Nozbe features:

1. Inbox: Whenever you have a task you need to get done, you can add it to your inbox. If your boss or a teammate is giving you a task to do, they can add a task and then assign it to you so it appears in your inbox. Each task allows you to add a comment, a due date, a category, a repeat option, and a time needed option. These features allow you to be even more efficient and on top of your work.

2. Projects: Once you’ve received a task, it’s necessary to move it from your inbox into the corresponding project. For example, if you’re hosting a contest for a client on Facebook, create a project called “Facebook Contest.” One of your tasks under that project might be to choose a prize. Once you’ve created that task, move it into the project folder so you can see that it needs to be done for your Facebook project. Then indicate if it needs to be completed by you, or by a teammate. That way, every project you run goes smoothly, efficiently, and correctly.

Fun tip: If you notice that your projects are piling up and you want to make sure the most important ones stand out from the rest, color code them! Chose a project, click “Project info” and select the “Change project color” option. Order your projects by color by clicking, dragging, and moving each one in place.

3. Project Information: Nozbe also has great additional features within projects, such as the priority feature, that allows you to indicate what needs to be done first. Selecting a completion date and time for a task will put it into your calendar on Nozbe that can be viewed by your team. If you want to see what your coworkers are working on when you can’t visit their cubicle, select the team option to view their tasks.

A project never goes unnoticed in Nozbe. The satisfying feeling you get from crossing an item off your to-do list is the same feeling you get from checking an item off your task list. Nozbe keeps you on track, on task and able to delegate with ease. What I find helpful is that Nozbe isn’t only for projects. Use it to securely save your social media and blog logins, your notes from a call with a client, and other sensitive items only viewed by you, or shared with a few others.

3. DropBox

When it comes to file sharing, Dropbox is a no-brainer because it’s the online land of files. It’s where anything from images, to documents, to spreadsheets, to PDFs can live in. We love Dropbox because it’s:

1. Accessible: One of my favorite features of Dropbox is that you can access these files on your computer, laptop, and phone, from anywhere! This also makes sharing a breeze because your items are safe in Dropbox even if you drop your phone in the toilet (don’t judge!), or accidentally delete a folder!

2. Share-friendly: One of Dropbox’s slogans is “Simple Sharing” and I’ve found that to be true. All it takes is a simple invite to a coworker, partner, or client and they have access to that folder. You can share specific links, photos, and files as well to keep items as private or as open as you’d like.

Fun tip: Instead of making edits on a project and sharing a file back-and-forth, use Dropbox’s commenting feature. Your colleague will get notified and can make the change easily (especially if it’s one edit or a simple edit) without having to download the file, make a change, resave, then send it back.

The short and sweet of Dropbox: You don’t lose your files, you’re more successful when your files are safe and in one place! Dropbox makes you look organized. Clients (and your coworkers or partners) enjoy being able to see what you see in real time. When I ask myself, “What would make a collaboration with my team easier?” I think of Dropbox especially when I’m not in the same room as my team or our clients.

4. Google Apps

I’m willing to admit my love for Google Apps right here and now. I absolutely love them. I use Google Mail, Docs, Sheets, and Calendar every day. We use Google Apps, especially Docs and Sheets, for the following:

1. Sharing: If you’re noticing a theme appearing, it’s because there is one: easy sharing is crucial if you want your remote team to be successful. Any item you’re working on at any given moment can be shared with coworkers so they can view them, comment on them, and edit them at the same time. Projects are ten times easier and faster when you don’t have to email, download, open, save, and re-email them (I’m tired just writing that). With Google Docs or Sheets, all changes are saved in one space in real time. An offline feature is also available so you can work without Wifi.

2. Organization: Google Apps has a place for everything and everything in its place. If you’re looking for a spreadsheet, go to the Sheets. If you’re looking for a document, go to the Docs. Every file is searchable as well and listed by the last time opened, and the owner.

Fun tip: If the look of your Google Apps are boring to you, customize them with your favorite color scheme, use backgrounds in Calendar (or use Google’s “Interesting Calendars” option), download extensions and apps that give you even more themes, the possibilities are endless!

The possibilities available through Google are amazing. Features such as Sheets, Docs, and Slides keep you, your team, and your clients working in sync and on the same page (literally – you can see people make changes in front of your eyes). Keeping in contact during a project without having to constantly email back and forth is a recipe for success in and of itself. Google Apps also carry the same features as Dropbox: access across all of your devices and backups of your documents!

What tools should you use?

Of course we suggest you try out Slack, Nozbe, Dropbox, and Google Apps (maybe you already use them!), but not every tool is one size fits all. One thing all of these tools have in common is excellent sharing capabilities. Find a tool that works best for what you need whether that’s communication, sharing, editing, etc. What tools help your company collaborate virtually? Let us know!

How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

how to provide great customer service on facebook

How to Provide Great Customer Service Using Facebook

how to provide great customer service on facebook

Social media sites have become more than just platforms for marketing and advertising. They’re also important channels for soliciting and receiving customer service—all in the public eye. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly half of American consumers use social media to ask questions or to talk about their experiences (good and bad). What does this mean for you? How you treat your customers and what they have to say about you is increasingly visible. Mess this one up, and you stand to lose not only one disgruntled customer but a whole slew of prospects.

I’ve already talked about why your brand should be using social media for customer care a few weeks ago. If you’ve been following along here at Crackerjack Marketing, you already understand the importance of how your brand is represented in social.

How to Provide Great Customer Service on Facebook

It’s critical to have a sound strategy in place when it comes to delivering customer service via social media in general and via Facebook in particular. While we certainly don’t believe Facebook should be your only home on the web, your customers are probably spending more time there than on your website. With that in mind, it only makes sense that you want to do everything you can to give them the tools to reach out to you via Facebook.


Here are a few best practices, tips, and tools that can help you provide great customer service on Facebook:

How to Make It Easy for Customers to Contact You on Facebook

If there’s one way to make a disgruntled customer even more upset, it’s by being hard to reach. Whether your customers want to sing your praises or share their concerns/complaints, make reaching out easy. The easier it is to do something, the more likely it is that we will do it, right? And making it easy for your customers to contact you while they’re on Facebook could lead to both an increase in clientele and customer satisfaction. How can you make it easy, you ask? Just use the

Customers and send you a private message on Facebook, but it’s a good idea to provide alternate methods for customers to contact you. Be sure all of your information is listed in the “About” section, including your customer service telephone number, email address and mailing address.How can you make it easy, you ask? Just use the

You can even take your efforts further by designing a custom tab for customer service or using  the “Contact Me” app to add a handy dandy contact form to your Facebook page. It’s free, and you don’t have to be techy to use it. It’s win-win!

How to Respond to Negative Comments on Facebook

Let’s face it; you’re going to get negative comments about your business on Facebook from time to time. As good as your products and services may be, someone, somewhere, is going to get frustrated with you at some point. Here are some pointers on dealing with issues:

Don’t Hide the Negative Comment

While it may be tempting to remove or delete the negative comments from Facebook – don’t! Unless, of course, the comment contains language not suitable for your audience.

The best way to build brand loyalty is through honest and transparent communication with your brand fans, whether they’re being positive or negative. After all, if they’re on your wall, they’ve committed to liking (or being a fan of) your brand, so they must have some reason for wanting to engage.

If the person commenting has a customer service issue, quickly let them know you want them to be happy and care about their concerns. Be Speedy Gonzales here. The longer he or she has to wait, the more frustrated that customer is likely to become.

Always Be Prompt

We cannot possibly stress this point enough. Studies have shown that the majority of customers on social media expect a response to their questions/concerns the same day. Nearly half expect a response within in an hour. In this case, slow and steady does not win the race.

Think about it. An unanswered issue may prompt “me too” responses and fuel the fire, making you look 50 Shades of Shady. So stay on top of your comments, and be sure to address them as quickly as possible, particularly the negative ones. Note that this may mean some evening and weekend comment moderation. Whatever you do, never let an answer languish overnight.

Craft the Appropriate Response

Once you’re ready to respond, try to determine the root of the issue. Is it a valid customer service problem, a product issue or an erroneous assumption?

  • If it’s customer service, cheerily handle the problem, providing a contact to customer service if necessary, trying to move the discussion off of Facebook.
  • If it’s an issue with a product, acknowledge the issue, stay positive, and thank the poster for the suggestion.
  • If it’s an erroneous assumption, simply and cheerfully update the poster with the correct information, referring them to your website or a news article if necessary to confirm the correct information.

Mind Your Manners

No matter what the issue, remember that politeness and cheerfulness go a long way toward establishing your business as a great provider of service. Never, ever be offensive; stay calm; and provide as much personal contact as you possibly can. You can even provide a company email address for follow-up conversation.

When They are Really Angry

Yes, there may be times when you have to deal with customers who are (ahem) a bit over the top in terms of their frustration. But you simply can’t stoop to their level and expect good results. In the extreme case, if your poster is full of vitriol against your brand, don’t stoop to his or her level. Just don’t engage. If the customer continues to bait you, kill him with kindness and remove the comments.

Evaluate Common Questions and Concerns

Try to collect a month’s worth of activity on Facebook to truly understand the kinds of issues that are being raised, such as, how many comments are written in moments of frustration, how many are technical, how many provide feedback (good or bad), and what time of day your customers are most active. Use this information to inform your choices going forward, including strategies for pleasing customers and steps to take to fix things when they’re less than happy.

Be Prepared

It’s also helpful to prepare a set of standard responses for the most-asked questions and potential issues. Preparing these responses in advance will allow you to feel confident about responding in the heat of the moment rather than dashing off a response when you’re worried about a further backlash.

Providing customer service via Facebook does take some effort, but the energy you put into it is well worth the return in terms of brand reputation and customer satisfaction. Apply this advice to your customer service process, and be sure to let us know how they work for you.

How to Provide Great Customer Service on Facebook

How to Get Facebook Fans Without Advertising

7 Ways to Gain Facebook Fans Without Using Paid Ads

How to Get Facebook Fans Without Advertising

Facebook used to be considered a progressive part of a brand’s marketing plan. These days, it’s not “progressive,” it’s an integral part of your plan. Consumers aren’t impressed with the fact you have a Facebook page for your business; expect you to have one.

Of course, merely having a Facebook page with your logo isn’t enough. Consumers also seek out social proof.  In other words, they look for indicators that your business is thriving and responsive, including your number of fans, how often you post and how much your fans interact with your page.

As Facebook’s continued changes to its algorithm have made it harder to get consumers’ attention on this platform, many marketers have turned to paid advertising to help with fan acquisition. We use Facebook advertising for our own clients as well and think it should, most certainly, be included as part of your overall social media marketing efforts.

Advertising shouldn’t be the only play in your book, though. There are other tactics you can use to give your Facebook page a boost.

How to Get Facebook Fans Without Advertising

So, what do you do if your Facebook page isn’t as vibrant as you’d like it to be? Here are seven actionable ways you could promote your page that you may have overlooked:

1. Check Your Website Homepage

This is the first and one of the most basic steps you can take. Make sure you have a Facebook like button in an easy-to-find place on your website. While the old rules said that your Facebook icon should be above the fold, it’s perfectly acceptable to place it in the footer too. These are the two place visitors look to find your social links.

2. Use Facebook Comments on Your Blog

Using the Facebook comments plugin in lieu of your blog’s default commenting system allows your readers to respond using their Facebook profile. When doing so, it also gives them the option to share their comments on Facebook, giving your brand more exposure and the potential for more website traffic. You can increase your chances of translating additional site traffic into Facebook page likes because you already followed tip #1. (If you haven’t done it yet, you’re going to, right?)

You can get step-by-step instructions on installing the Facebook commenting system at WPBeginner.com.

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3. Announce Your Page Via Email

If you have acquired any type of email list, big or small, put it to work! Don’t just announce your Facebook page as an afterthought in your regular newsletter. Instead, email out a separate announcement – after all, it’s a big deal and a long-term investment on your part.

4. Cross Promote

Do you have a thriving Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram presence? Be sure to promote your Facebook page on other social media channels too. Of course, you need to do this tactfully. Keep your promotion balanced with the other great content you’ve been publishing that attracted your followers on Twitter in the first place.

5. Ask People to Share

When you consider that each person who likes a page has, on average, 150 Facebook friends, you can help your cause by asking people to share your page with friends. If even a few of your current fans share your page with their friends, it will grow your Facebook community. If you have a small, tight-knit community that loves your brand, why not ask for the share?

6. Show It in Print

Whether it’s business cards, brochures, catalogs, sales presentations or ads, make sure you list your Facebook page on all of them. Keep in mind that this is one of the more difficult ways to grow your fan base, because potential fans can’t simply click on your printed material to give you the like. This form of promotion requires them to stop what they are doing in that moment to seek out your page, or remember to do it later.

You can help make it easier for potential fans to remember or to find you. Do this by first claiming your vanity URL and then including it on your printed material. For example, we’d use Facebook.com/CrackerjackMarketing. It’s easy to remember and easy to find. If you don’t have a vanity URL (though you really should!) consider using a link shortener such as bit.ly instead.

7. Get Active on Facebook – But Not Just on Your Page

Another great way to get more exposure for your brand’s Facebook page is to be active on Facebook. Not just on your own page, but other brand pages too. Yes, yes you can like and comment on other brand pages as a Facebook page. Even better, Facebook has made is very easy to do so. All you need to do is to navigate to a brand’s Facebook page and change between interacting as your personal profile and your brand page.

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As you do this, other fans of that page will see your comment, giving you increased exposure. Use this tactic judiciously. Be sure you choose to interact with other pages that are aligned with yours, but not in direct competition. Also, be smart about your comments. You want to leave comments that add value to the conversation; don’t abuse this by being overtly self-promotional.

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Use the above tips to grow your Facebook fan base. And when you’ve finished? Sorry, you’re never finished when it comes to Facebook. Go ahead and rinse and repeat. Continuous action is key to your social media success.

7 Ways to Gain Facebook Fans

social media for customer care

Why Your Brand Should Use Social Media for Customer Care

social media customer care

Social media is a viable avenue for providing service to your customers. As more and more consumers embrace social media for personal use, they are also reaching out to companies this way.

Some brands listen and respond better than others, and these are the brands that enjoy increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. In most industries, consumers have a good deal of choice when it comes choosing where to spend their money, so encouraging loyalty is an important goal. In fact, a 2015 study from Garnter revealed that customer service, not price point, is the most competitive factor in the purchase decision.

Customer service isn’t an either or proposition, so you don’t have to choose social media customer service over traditional methods. In fact, you shouldn’t choose one over the other at all. Social media isn’t “up and coming” in the customer service realm, consumers are already taking to their favorite social networks with complaints, suggestions, and compliments.

Social Media for Customer Care Statistics:

Remember that using social media for customer service doesn’t just influence your relationship with your current customers. It also influences how prospects see you. Potential customers take note of how well you handle customer service issues by observing your online responses, or they hear about your responses from online friends. They then develop an impression of you that helps them decide that your business is the right one to patronize.

Poor customer service is among the primary complaints customers have when dealing with companies of all sizes. And it’s far from just an annoyance. Some customers will stop patronizing a company completely after a poor customer service experience. Wondering what’s most likely to go wrong?

5 Common Mistakes When Using Social Media for Customer Care

Customers cannot reach a live person when they’re in need of help

Undoubtedly, automated phone systems make routing calls and sharing information easier, but customers tend to hate them when they feel the need for human help. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports survey, more than 70 percent of respondents feel very annoyed when they cannot reach an actual person.

Customer service reps lack customer service skills

You really want your most conscientious and personable people in this position. You’ll lose customers quickly if your reps sound bored, disinterested, or uninformed. Even worse is the rude customer service rep, and these days, it seems many companies have them on board.

Customer service staff lacks training

When customers contact your company, they expect to reach someone who can help them with their issues, who understands what they are talking about, and who has the authority to make decisions or take action. Customers become frustrated when they must wait long periods of time for customer service reps to figure things out (often by going to other company employees for the information they should have readily at hand) or worse, provide incorrect information. Then there is the customer service rep who makes promises he can’t keep. When the customer attempts to follow up, he’s told the original rep was wrong or the solution originally provided is against company policy.

Community Managers don’t fully understand your products or services

No matter how personable and efficient a customer service rep may seem, he won’t do your business justice if he doesn’t understand your products and services and how they are supposed to work. Before communicating with customers, your rep should be well trained and understand how your offerings work and what might go wrong with them. Only then can he or she provide your customers with reliable help.

Not tracking and monitoring customer service contact

How can you hope to improve your services and keep your customers satisfied if you have no idea why they’re contacting you, what type of help they need, which solutions your reps have provided, and how content your customers were with the results of their contact. You need a system in place for monitoring customer service contact and results, so you can evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s reps and policies and make changes when necessary.

As you move forward with using social media for customer service, always keep in mind that monitoring is critical. Monitoring interactions and responses is not only important for determining what you’re doing right and where you can improve but also for getting a heads up about problems before they get out of hand. With effective monitoring, you can note customer issues and complaints and respond to them effectively before they become full-scale crises that damage your business reputation.

Why Your Brand Should Use Social Media

Better Twitter Strategy

Twitter Strategy

“4 Steps to a Better Twitter Strategy” is co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland.

Better Twitter Strategy

With over 106 million users sending more than a total of 140 million updates per day; you can see why we think Twitter is an essential platform for your business. We’ve written about Twitter a lot, everything from finding people to follow, finding content to share and explaining why Twitter Moments matters to your brand.

Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, it’s time to fine tune your Twitter strategy so you can maximize the benefits.

4 Steps to a Better Twitter Strategy

One of the questions businesses often ask is “How often should I Tweet?” This topic has been debated by social media pundits, almost since the dawn of Twitter. The truth is, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. The number of Tweets you should send is directly tied to the size of your Twitter community and your content.

One of the questions businesses often ask is “How often should I Tweet?” This topic has been debated by social media pundits, almost since the dawn of Twitter. The truth is, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. The number of Tweets you should send is directly tied to the size of your Twitter community and your content.

While you should be Tweeting every day, there is more to it than tossing out a link to your most recent blog post or a random update here or there. Here are four things you should be doing if you plan on keeping up on Twitter:

1. Tweet consistently

For your brand or business, this may mean seven days a week or only Monday – Friday, depending on when your customers are online. This doesn’t mean scheduling or tweeting at the same time, every day. It means that you shouldn’t send out 65 tweets in one day and then not return to Twitter for a month.

2. Keep your Twitter content balanced

Think of Twitter as a party or networking meeting you don’t want to be one of the people everyone avoids because all they do is talk about themselves.

The same principle applies to Twitter. If your tweets are constantly about your own business or blog posts, your followers will catch on and ignore them. Even worse, they are likely to quickly unfollow you. Instead, keep your Twitter stream filled with a lively mix of brand updates and curated content.

3. Schedule your Twitter content

There’s no need to make Twitter any harder that it needs to be (though, really, it’s not that hard, once you get the hang of it). Because you’ve got a lot of moving pieces, it’s a good idea to not only use an editorial calendar (you can get our free editorial calendar here) but also use to tools to help you schedule what content you can in advance.

If you’re using Hootsuite, there is a built-in scheduling feature you can use. If you’re not using a 3rd party Twitter dashboard, take a look at Buffer, a simple tool that takes the guesswork out of Twitter timing and also allows you to schedule tweets in advance, so that you can get out from behind your desk. With Buffer, your content will get the best possible engagement in terms of link-clicks and retweets. Buffer is extremely easy to use, so we recommend it for people who are eager to ramp up their Twitter efforts and start to publish a lot of content but not ready for a full-fledged dashboard, like Hootsuite.

4. Stay engaged

We can’t put enough emphasis on this! Twitter is more than just a collection of links and announcements. It’s about having conversations. Remember, people respond to people. When responding to other Twitter users, retweeting other people’s content or joining in on a conversation, you really can’t tweet too often.

Use the above tips to get your tweeting on track. And keep in mind that it’s okay to experiment a little, update at different times and at different frequencies, and tweet out different types of content to find out what resonates with your Twitter followers. The most important thing is that you just do it and do it consistently, with good content and your community in mind.

4 Steps to A Better Twitter Strategy

social media charitable giving campaigns

Charitable Giving Campaigns Best Practices and Examples

social media charitable giving campaigns

Have you noticed the rise of brands implementing social media charitable giving campaigns or, as some may know them, “share-to-donate” campaigns? It’s no big surprise. After all, sharing on social media is what people love to do most. When you combine that with a good cause, you’ve usually got a recipe for success. Right?

Well, maybe or maybe not. While it’s true that this type of social media campaign could present a huge opportunity for your brand and your chosen charity, it could backfire on you and generate the wrong kind of buzz if not executed thoughtfully.

The good news is that when done properly, charitable giving campaigns really do create a win-win-win situation for your brand, charity, and community. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at four brands that got it exactly right. We are also going to give you some tips for planning and creating a successful charitable giving campaign.

What is a Charitable Giving Campaign?

First things first. Before we go too much further, let’s explain what we’re talking about when we say “charitable giving campaign.” Even though the term “charitable giving campaign” may sound like the brand or charity is soliciting donations from participants, they’re not. What many brands are doing is asking their community to take a specific action and for each action, the brand will donate a pre-determined dollar amount to a particular charity.

The most common action involved is usually based on some form of sharing. This may be sharing a Facebook post from a brand page or a video, or it may be asking fans to share a picture of themselves or tag a friend in social media.

For example, a brand might ask their fans to post a picture of themselves, accompanied by a specific hashtag. For each picture posted, the brand would donate $1 to a particular charity.

Four Great Social Media Charitable Giving Campaigns

 

1. Subaru’s Share What You Love

Subaru asked their fans and followers to post a picture to “Share What You Love” and upload it to their Share What You Love microsite using the #ShareTheLove hashtag.

After uploading the image, participants were asked to choose from a selection of four charities, including ASPCA, Make-A-Wish, Meals on Wheels, and the National Park Foundation, for Subaru to donate $250 to on behalf of the participant.

What made this successful

This campaign was successful because of the significant donation amount, and the freedom given to the participant regarding the image they shared, and the charity they chose.

social-media-charitable-giving-campaigns-1

2. Coke’s #Reach Up

In 2015, Coke created a video highlighting Special Olympics participants and events, as well as a song created for the Olympics. Coke encouraged their fans and followers to share the video using the #ReachUp hashtag.

After participants shared the video on either Facebook or Twitter, Coke donated $1 to the Special Olympics for each share.

What made this successful

Moving and inspiring content is what made #ReachUp successful. Coke’s audience felt a connection to the video as well as to the Special Olympics, so they felt the desire to share the content. Coke put the focus on the charity, not the brand; this was sharing made easy and heartwarming.

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3. Kellogg’s Share Breakfast

The Kellogg’s Share Breakfast campaign asked fans and followers to share the information about the campaign using the #ShareBreakfast hashtag to their choice of social media channels. For each share, Kellogg’s donated one breakfast to Action for Healthy Kids. With over 1.5 million breakfasts donated because of their social media campaign, we can certainly call this a success.

What made this successful

Kellogg included a “celebrity dad” (Taye Diggs) as an influencer and created a microsite where the participants could learn about the campaign and included a large call to action and easy social sharing buttons.

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4. Disney’s Share Your Ears

Disney celebrated their 60th anniversary by asking their fans and followers to “share their ears” (by wearing or making their own Mickey Mouse ears, or creating ears with their hands) to their social channels using the #ShareYourEars hashtag.

Disney donated $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every qualifying image shared to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

What made this successful

Disney encouraged participants to be creative in their entries. They also created meaning by partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, one that many people care about and support already. The foundation also heavily promoted this campaign in return.

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Is a Charitable Giving Campaign Right for Your Brand?

Did any of these examples get you thinking about starting your own share-to-donate campaign? We hope so! This type of campaign will allow you to partner with a charity that resonates with your brand and your community for a great cause. It will get your company involved, the charity involved, and your community involved! Who doesn’t love scrolling through Facebook, and supporting a good cause at the same time?

Charitable Giving Campaign Best Practices

A successful charitable giving campaign is not only about raising donations (although that is important), it’s also about building relationships and community ties.

Above, we highlighted four great examples of charitable giving campaigns using social media. Now that we’ve (hopefully) inspired you to start your own share-to-donate campaign, we want to share our best practices from these campaigns so you can implement them on your own!

1. Choose the right charity

There are so many good charities that can use donations. It’s important to choose one that resonates with your community and also aligned with your brand. Yes, the idea of rescuing baby kittens may pull at your own heartstrings, but it doesn’t make sense if your brand isn’t tied to kittens or animals in any other way.

Disney’s Share Your Ears campaign is a great example of a fantastic brand/charity match up. Disney has partnered with the Make A Wish Foundation in the past, and what do they have in common? Making dreams come true. Magic. It’s the perfect match.

Subaru also had a great idea: Sometimes it’s hard to narrow down which charity you want to work with, so they chose four different charities and invited the participant to choose which charity who would be the recipient of the related donation.

2. Donation amount

Apart from choosing the right charity, this is the single, most important aspect of your charitable giving campaign. Don’t be a cheapskate here!
Make sure your total donation amount is significant enough to make a difference. It should also be related to the complexity of the action you are asking your fans to take to trigger the donation. The harder the action, the more money you should be donating.

A simple post like or post share, or maybe event an easy Twitter update, should equate to at least $1 for the charity. Asking someone to take a picture of themselves doing something specific? That’s a harder task and the donation amount should be more. In other words, if you want someone to do something more than click a like or share button, you have to make it worth their while.

Subaru got it right in their “Share What You Love” campaign. They made a donation of $250 for each new vehicle sold or leased during the event to the charity of the participants choosing.

3. Focus on the charity

Tread carefully, readers. One way to ensure that your charitable giving campaign won’t be successful is to keep all eyes on your brand. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the cause! Repeat that like a mantra, and turn the spotlight towards the charity and their mission.

A great example of this is Coke’s #ReachUp campaign. They created a heartwarming video highlighting the events that take place during the Special Olympics. This video put the focus on the charity, and not Coke. The participants felt a connection to the video and therefore a need to share it.

4. Include an influencer

You don’t have to go at this endeavor alone (and we recommend that you don’t). Bringing in an influencer from Instagram, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter account, or even a celebrity can boost your credibility and your reach. If you’re wondering who to choose, see point #1.

Choose an influencer that not only resonates with your community and your brand but most importantly with the charity (remember, it’s all about them). If they’re not passionate about the mission, your audience will be able to tell.

Kellogg’s Share Breakfast campaign included a “celebrity dad” (Taye Diggs) who created a video of his own for the campaign. Your charity is also an influencer! The Make A Wish Foundation participated heavily in Disney’s Share Your Ears campaign, and the partnership was great for the campaign and the charity..

5. Easy tracking

The proof is in the pudding (or in this case, in the shares). When your campaign is over, and you’re ready to report its success, make sure you can go back and count how many retweets, shares, or uploads were received. One of the most used platforms to track with is a microsite. By creating a separate space for the shares or uploads to live on, you can keep your information in one place and access it when necessary.

Subaru’s Share What You Love campaign is a great example of easy tracking. Subaru used a microsite that invited participants to upload a picture of them sharing what they love. This allowed Subaru to easily count the uploads to the site and get even more data from Google Analytics.

A microsite isn’t the only way to track shares! If you’ve chosen a hashtag to represent your campaign, we recommend using a third-party website (like Hashtracking.com or Hashtags.org) to help you count tags on Twitter or Instagram. If you’re using Facebook or Pinterest to share your message, count likes, shares (or repins) and comments on the original post. There is also third-party software to track mentions of you, your charity, or the name of your campaign.

What are your favorite charitable giving campaigns? Do you have more tips to run a successful campaign? Share them with us in the comments!

Charitable Gving Campaigns Best Practices

Tweet Like a Pro

How to Tweet Like a Pro

advanced twitter tips

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you can probably tell we’re all aflutter about Twitter. Even though we wonder why Twitter is so darn difficult for people, we’re big advocates for using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy.  It’s a powerful tool for building your business.

What do you do when the ideas just don’t flow as readily as you’d like? What can you do when you’re long on enthusiasm but short on compelling ideas for tweets? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to get you through those difficult times as well as great resources for finding content to share.

Creative Ideas for Compelling Tweets

Once you’ve been tweeting a while, you’ll develop a formula or a style that makes it easier to come up with consistent content many times a day, virtually every day of the week. If your style is primarily content curation, over time you’ll establish a list of trusted sources for finding just the right stuff for your Twitter followers. You’ll get in a groove so that tweeting won’t become a chore. But in the meantime, you may need some prompts.


Here are 12 prompts that will get you thinking about things you can tweet about. Pick a few every day, and change it up from day-to-day. Each of these prompts is good for hundreds of tweets over the course of a few months.

12 Prompts for Quick and Easy Twitter Content

  1. Tweet a link to a blog post you agree with and add a comment (on the post) that mentions one of the points in the post.
  2. Share a photo of something you pass on the street that relates to your business in some way.
  3. Share a link to your own blog post and ask people a question about it.
  4. Pose a question to your followers asking what they think about an issue that’s hot at the moment.
  5. Start a conversation. Respond to a question someone asked or simply comment on something someone said. Then keep the conversation going, back and forth once or twice using @ mentions.
  6. Answer the question, “What’s inspiring you?” (as in, “Today I’m inspired by…”)
  7. Answer the question, “What’s bothering you?” (obviously, keep it relevant).
  8. Share a link to a video that you think might be of interest to your followers.
  9. As you go about your day at work, notice the behind-the-scenes image or story that you can share with your customers, like a work-in-progress.
  10. Tweet an inspiring quotation.
  11. Retweet the best tweets of those you admire.
  12. Share a link to a news story related to your business and comment on it.

Keeping a list like this handy so you can refer to it when you’re having a Twitter writer’s block can help you keep up your Twitter content and make it easy and fun at the same time.

Resources for Links to Share on Twitter

You may only get 140 characters (for now!), but by linking to an article, blog post or website, you open a door to a whole new world of information. Sharing links is one of the best ways to use Twitter for business. It shows that you are a valuable source of information, and by choosing the most useful information for your community, you ensure that people will come to count on you, and respect your knowledge of your field. There is a firehose of information out there, and anyone who can be trusted to find the best of the best will be rewarded with followers and retweets.

Here are several of our favorite resources for finding Twitter content to share, to help build your stream:

  1. Google Alerts is one of the easiest tools to use. Go to the site and choose the subjects you want to know about. Google will email your chosen content from news, the web and blogs based on the frequency you select.
  2. Addictomatic is a fun and, ahem, addicting aggregator to use. Their tagline of “inhale the Web” is fairly true, and they take content one step beyond Google’s results by bringing in information from Yahoo and Bing.
  3. Paper.li is a tool you can use to automatically curate content on a wide range of topics and arrange it in a magazine-style format. The tool is very easy to do and can automatically Tweet your paper and send it via email too!
  4. If you know there are key bloggers whose content is regularly worth sharing, add them to your RSS reader and search them daily for the best posts of your favorite bloggers.
  5. AllTop is a significant help in finding new blogs to add to your reader. Search for topics and AllTop will return results for you.
  6. When you’re feeling short on inspiration, go to listen to a Ted Talk. Not only are you likely to get inspired, you may just find some great content worth sharing.
  7. Of course, there is always your own Twitter feed! Build a list of people you follow that Tweet about the topics you’re interested in. Or, type a term or phrase in the Twitter search box to find new and interesting content to share.

Try some of the above ideas, and then be sure to come back and fill us in on how they worked out for you. Have bright ideas of your own? We want to hear them! Where do you find the best content to share on Twitter? How do you come up with engaging ideas? We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Share them with us in the comments section!

How To Tweet Like a Pro

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter

“How to Find People to Follow on Twitter” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

how to find people to follow on twitter

You know the influence of Twitter. It is, after all, a powerful and engaging social media platform. But, if you’re not following anyone and no one’s following you, it’s neither powerful nor engaging. You need followers (beyond your family and friends), and you need to be following other interesting Twitter users too. So, how do you do that? We have you covered. Here’s a quick guide to finding people to follow on Twitter

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter: Make the First Move

When you’re just starting out on Twitter, you’ll want to find people to follow who will satisfy your objectives. You follow them, and a significant number will follow you right back! You may just want to lurk a bit and listen in on conversations at first. You may want to connect with influencers like journalists or bloggers, or you may want to find other people with similar interests. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, one of the most targeted ways to connecting with like-minded people is to search Twitter bios.

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter: Try FollowerWonk

We think FollowerWonk is particularly useful for searching within the content of people’s bios, so you can get to the specifics people include there. It’s one of the best places to source Twitter users to follow.

Once you log in to FollowerWonk using your Twitter account, you’ll see a large search box. Let’s say you are a classical musician and you’d like to find people with the words ‘classical music’ in their bio who live in New York. You can add the phrase “classical music” in the search box and expand your search by choosing the small link below, entitled “more options.” Those other options include URL, number of followers, name and location. Go ahead and choose your location since that’s what you are most interested in.

When you run the search, FollowerWonk not only delivers your results, but provides a list of people that tells you how long they’ve been on Twitter, what their influence is, how many followers they have and how many times they’ve tweeted. The bio will tell you virtually everything else you need to know. So much information at your fingertips!

You’ll be able to decide if you want to follow a musician, a music blogger, a politician who loves classical music, or all three. You never know what kinds of conversations you’ll have or where it could lead until you start listening, sharing information meeting people with similar interests on Twitter.

When you’ve chosen from this richly annotated list of potential people to follow, you can look at the people they follow (since birds of a feather. . . ) and follow them. Before you know it, you’ll have collected yourself the most highly focused, fascinating community of people to talk to, listen to and share information with, all with a few clicks.

Exciting isn’t it? But wait! There’s more.

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter: 4 More Tools

1. Crowdfire

Crowdfire is an app that lets you follow people by hashtag, location or even people following other Twitter users. It’s easy to use and also allows you to see a list of people that aren’t following you back.

2. Tweet Stork

Tweet Stork delivers recommendations to you based on tweets related to your own, users with lists similar to yours or users that retweet the same type of content you do. Just select your option and Tweet Stork will provide a list. You can even follow others without leaving the site.

3. SocialBro

SocialBro (now, Auisense) has a host of tools to help you grow your Twitter followers and find people to follow on Twitter.  Their targeted filtering capabilities help you find some of the most engaged people you can follow.

4. Twitter Advanced Search

This is Twitter’s own search tool. It’s become more robust over the past year or so and is definitely worth a look. It even allows you to include a search for sad or happy face characters or questions.

If you find a lot of interesting users, organize them into Twitter lists for easier conversation management. Of course, we’d never recommend following another user simply because they match a few bits of search criteria. Take a few moments to read through their Twitter bio and tweets to determine if the user is truly a good match for you. If he or she is, follow and be sure to engage!

To get what you want, you typically have to give a little something, and Twitter is no exception to this rule. Go ahead and find like-minded people to follow. Before you know it, you’ll have a long list of followers too.

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter

Why Is Twitter So Darn Difficult for People?

why is twitter difficult

I do a lot of social media training, which I really enjoy. I work with small business owners, executives, front-lines social media managers, and people who are trying to gain skills for their next job.

I’ve trained on social media strategy, on blogging, and on just about every platform out there: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. As well as Twitter.

And it’s really remarkable: Every person I’ve ever trained on Twitter seems to think it’s the most difficult and confusing of all the social networks. So I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is the case. Here’s what I’ve concluded on what makes Twitter difficult.

1. Twitter is Open-Source

Unlike Facebook, which has built in apps and metrics and functionality, Twitter is open-source. Anyone can build tools and uses for Twitter that get widely adopted by others (like Hootsuite, my favorite way to use Twitter), and it’s not always easy to figure out what all of those tools and uses are, because they’re not baked right into the platform. Even some of what we think of as native Twitter functions, like hashtags, were homegrown by users.

When you start out on Twitter you only need to learn Twitter, but in fairly short order you then get a handle on some of these outside functions or tools.  Whether it’s a tweet scheduling app, a measurement app, or a trackable link shortener, you won’t get far (as a business tweeter) without the help of some third-party tools.

2. Twitter Is Not a Network

Twitter itself has repeatedly said that it’s not a network, it’s a media platform. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you can follow someone without them following you back. The public nature of everyone’s feed makes it very well suited for non-networked media campaigns and engagements. Certainly, you can use Twitter to network, and it’s a very powerful platform for that, but there are a myriad of other uses for Twitter beyond the networking aspect.

Use Twitter to provide customer service, create a mini-newsmagazine for your business, hold interviews, throw online events, or write a novel. One of my favorite twitterers is @arjunbasu – an author who writes 140-character short stories on Twitter. He’s not engaging socially, he’s creating art with his tweets.  Anyone can follow him and be amused by him. No question, that’s media.

3. Twitter Has a Secret Language

Twitter has so many nuances and little-known tricks, it’s very hard for a new user to figure it out and it may be years before they learn them all.  In part, Twitter was built that way – the 140 character limit necessitates short-form commands and functionality shorthand. It’s kind of like an MS-DOS command prompt, from back in the day.

A few of the little-known or often overlooked native Twitter functions that trip people up, or that they don’t often know about, include:

  • If you use an @username as the very first piece of content in a tweet (if the @ is the first character), that tweet is only seen by that person and anyone who follows you both mutually.  It is amazing to me how many people don’t know this, really through no fault of their own. This is definitely the #1 “insider” thing that I get to teach people.
  • You can follow someone by typing “follow username” (with or without the @ symbol) right into the Compose Tweet box
  • You can message (direct message) someone by typing “d username” (with or without the @symbol) right into the Compose Tweet box
  • Twitter has very useful List functionality built in, which helps segment the people you follow so you can be sure to see the tweets of people who matter most to you. Once you’ve added people to lists, you can view just the tweets of the people on a particular list. This is great for people who say “Twitter moves too fast.”
  • Use Twitter’s Favorites functionality to bookmark tweets you want to refer to or share later. If you Favorite someone’s tweet, they’ll also get a notification (if their notifications are set up to receive them), which will show them that you engaged with their tweet.

My advice to people who are intimidated by or feel they can’t figure out Twitter: be patient. Jump in and start tweeting. It will take a while to build your following, so use that time to connect to people who know you well (and will completely forgive any faux pas you make) and experiment with the platform.  And remember, everyone makes mistakes: there are very few things that are truly dreadful on Twitter.

Now go forth and tweet!  And definitely get in touch with me (here in the comments or via Twitter, natch) if I can answer any questions about Twitter for you.

Why Is Twitter So Darn Difficult for People

Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for eCommerce Businesses

Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for eCommerce Businesses

One of the most common answers I hear to the question of “how do I grow sales for my eCommerce business” is: social media. But what does that mean? Everyone’s “doing social media,” but are they doing it correctly, and more importantly, does it work for your business?


By “doing social media,” people generally mean: using social media platforms to achieve an objective in your business. For most businesses that objective will be either raising brand awareness or achieving sales. However, there are other objectives such as community engagement, providing customer service, and to humanize your brand.

In recent years, the volume of businesses using Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms has risen greatly. However, a lot of businesses are only on these networks because it’s the “in thing.” It’s really important to evaluate if social media is an appropriate marketing channel for your business, so consider these Pros and Cons.

Pros of Social Media for eCommerce Businesses

There must be a reason why so many people are doing it, right?

  • People look online before purchasing products. In fact, 67% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchase. This means, if you’re selling a product and can get good consumer buzz in social media, it’s likely that potential customers will see that info. Therefore, social can be great for brand awareness and customer acquisition.
  • Social media is big business, and growing. Over 71% of businesses are planning to increase their social media budget for 2017. Establishing yourself now will help you to get an edge before your competitors do.
  • Data, lots of it. Over 90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years. Listening to and analyzing social media can provide you with insights into your industry, customers demographics and how demand is evolving.
  • Build relationships. Social media offers you the opportunity to build a relationship with your customers to increase customer lifetime value and acquire more potential customers. Additionally, these relationships help you to work on product development, when you get feedback from your customers (which you can also do via social media!).
  • Social media influencers are a thing. Connecting your brand with top influencers in your industry can do great things for your business; you get to “borrow” their audience every time they mention your brand. A 2015 study found that marketers get $9.60 in earned media for every $1 spent in influence marketing – a very good investment.

Cons of Social Media for eCommerce Businesses

However, there can be problems with using social media…

  • Difficult to quantify. For enterprise businesses, this may be easier, but for small businesses it may be difficult to effectively quantify what kind of return on investment you’re achieving with social media. Particularly when you goal is community engagement or other, less tangible, objectives.
  • Time-consuming. Coming up with ideas, creating the relevant imagery, and posting to different social media platforms can be a difficult task. While tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer can streamline the process, it can still be a time-consuming activity.
  • Difficult to do well. There are tens of thousands of business currently trying to grow sales using social media and frankly, a large portion of them aren’t achieving their objectives. As such, becoming proficient with effective social media usage often requires a time and resource investment initially.

One last consideration: it’s important to understand if your customers are actually active users of social media, and if so, what platforms. A fashion brand oriented towards younger consumers may have best success on Instagram, while a gardening line aimed at homeowners may see more engagement on Facebook.

Hopefully, these pros and cons have created some food for thought in your decision to use social media. I’d love to hear if they’ve helped you form your opinion about how to use social media in your own eCommerce business.

About the Author: Daniel runs marketing for Shoprocket.co in London, a service which enables any website, blog or Facebook Page to add Ecommerce in minutes. Follow Shoprocket on Twitter @shop_rocket.

Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for E-Commerce Business

Why Businesses Should Care About Facebook Featured Photos

facebook featured photos

If you’ve been paying attention to your personal Facebook account in recent weeks, you’ve probably noticed a new feature: Facebook featured photos. Although this addition is currently available for personal profiles only, it’s worthwhile for businesses to pay attention to it, as there’s always a chance it might migrate over to business pages one day.

Before we look at this feature in more detail, here’s a reminder of why it’s important for businesses that value social media to pay attention to Facebook. Not only did it have 1.59 billion monthly active users by the end of 2015 (with 1.44 billion using mobile devices) but its audience is global, with 83.6% of users outside the US and Canada.

Photos are among the most popular content, representing 54% of all posts. That’s why it’s unsurprising that Facebook has introduced this new feature.

How to Add Featured Photos to Your Facebook Profile

Here’s how you add featured photos to your personal profile:

  1. Visit your Facebook profile and look for the “add featured photos” link just below your profile photograph. It’s in the same box that allows you to add a short intro to your profile.
  2. Click it and you will get the option to add up to five photos from among the photos you have already uploaded.
  3. Select the ones you want and save and they will appear on your profile, with two larger photos at the top and three smaller ones at the bottom.

If you’re not happy with your choice of photos, just upload new ones to expand your selection. And if you add a Facebook featured photo, then change your mind, you can remove it like this:

  1. Hover over the featured photos block and click the pen icon that appears in the top right.
  2. Hover over the photo you want to remove and click or top the X that appears in the top right hand corner.
  3. Save, or click the image icon to add a new photo, then save.

Facebook featured photos are public, so it’s important to choose your photos carefully. It’s also a good idea to include a description or some kind of context for the photos to raise interest and perhaps stimulate some conversation.

Benefits of Facebook Featured Photos

As mentioned earlier, this feature is currently only available for personal profiles, but many people use their personal profiles to connect with clients either directly, or through participation in Facebook groups, so you won’t want to ignore the marketing potential of using featured photos on Facebook.


These photos can help people understand your personality and business. On your individual Facebook profile, you could choose to feature photos showing:

  • Your business location
  • Your branding
  • Your interests
  • A current deal or offer (it remains to be seen whether Facebook will allow this or will continue to steer people down to the “pay to play” route)

In other words, you can use featured photos to showcase whatever you think is most important to your business. It’s a way to pique people’s interest before they begin to interact with you and help them decide whether they want to connect or do business with you.

Other New Facebook Features

While you’re at it, consider updating the intro section that has replaced the old “about” section. Hover over the box till you see the pencil icon and enter your own text. This is another way to put your photos into context.

Aside from the intro and featured photos, Facebook has added another new feature that business page owners should pay attention to: the ability to use a seven second introductory video instead of your static profile photo. With video being such a huge part of content marketing, this would be another excellent business feature.

Facebook already offers the business benefit of exposure to a huge and engaged global audience. Today, these new features extend your reach from your personal profile, but in the future, these or similar profile could increase the benefits you can gain from your business page. Are you using Facebook featured photos yet? What has your experience been?

Stay informed about the latest in social media with our email updates: fresh content, delivered weekly. Subscribe now!

Why Businesses Should Care ABout Facebook Featured Photos

5 Things You Should Know About Facebook

5 Things You Should Know About Facebook

5 Things You Should Know About Facebook

We use social media sites every day, but how much do we really understand about how to use them effectively in marketing? To help you, Crackerjack Marketing is creating a series of posts to guide you, and naturally, we’re starting with Facebook.

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digital-sharecropping

Why You Should Avoid Digital Sharecropping

digital-sharecropping
 
Using social media is now a fact of life, but there’s one key mistake business owners have to avoid. If you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever social media is best for your business, that’s fantastic, but you must avoid the perils of digital sharecropping. What is it? It’s where you put your eggs in a social media basket and have no web presence of your own.

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twitter moments

Why Twitter’s New Moments Feature Matters to Brands

twitter moments
Did you notice something different over on Twitter recently? Twitter unrolled its new, and, quite possibly, most important feature called “Moments.” Moments takes what everyone is talking about and puts it into a tidy place for the user to find. Now we don’t have to jump in and get lost, mid-conversation. This is a great way to check out and interact with what’s going on on Twitter, before you dip your toes fully into the stream.

What EXACTLY is this “Moments”?

Essentially, Moments makes trending stories have a longer life. It yanks it from the rapids of the Twitter river and sticks some stuff into a calm little pond, where it waits patiently to be fished out. With the click of that neat little lightning bolt icon, a list of important highlights, along with live tweets, awaits. You’ll never have to wonder what’s happening on Twitter, ever again!

How does Moments work?

It’s quite simple, really. Well, no, it isn’t, but we’ll make it simple. We mentioned the lightning bolt icon already. You click it, which then brings you into the Moment app. What you see on that neat, magazine-like screen is a list of new and emerging stories that are popular in your network. If what’s going on doesn’t strike your fancy, you can click on “Sports” or “Entertainment” and catch up on what’s been going on over there.

How will it affect my own Twitter stream?

It’s supposed to affect your Twitter stream! Moments and your stream are new besties. They don’t go anywhere without the other. Moments tells Stream everything, and vice versa. Together, they are supposed to make a more robust, enriching, newsworthy experience. As Moments grows and learns how the user, well, uses Twitter, the content in Moments will be more individualized, tailoring itself to your own, personal likes.

How can Moments benefit brands?

Twitter is a cultural zeitgeist. As a brand on Twitter, you need to be aware – no, ahead – of the trends. Currently, we can stay on top of trends by staying really active on Twitter, checking out trending hashtags and using Twitter lists. Twitter’s new Moments feature now gives you another way to keep your finger on the pulse of the Twitter sphere.

As a brand, it’s not enough to settle for not being left behind the conversation, you want to be the leader. Imagine if your content was selected to be part of the curated collection!

At the moment, “Moments” (see what I did just there?) are only curated by a couple of Twitter partners but Twitter will be opening Moments up to more users in the future which, in turn, could present huge opportunities for creative thinking brands to set trends!

Twitter created a game-changer with Moments. Unlike some other features that Twitter has played around with in the past, this one is going to last a lot longer than…a moment.

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5 Tips for Brands Using Periscope

5-periscope-tips
Getting acquainted with Periscope and learning what it does was an important first step. Now, however, you have to figure out how to use this innovative new social media tool for your brand. Don’t worry. We have you covered with five tips brands can use to make the most of Periscope:

1. Promote

Promote your broadcast before, during, and after your event. The more you promote, the more people will actually view your broadcast, and even better, share it. Use all of your social media accounts to let your audience know what you have planned. Shout it from the rooftops while you’re live too, even if this means assigning someone else to promote or schedule posts/tweets in advance. And once your broadcast has ended, it would be a mistake to fall silent. Your broadcast will remain available for 24 hours, so make sure your audience members know they haven’t missed out, even if they couldn’t tune in when you were live.

2. Vary Content

There’s nothing worse than all promo, all the time. While you do want to promote your awesome products and services some of the time, you don’t want to turn your audience off by trying to sell your brand at every turn. Fortunately, Periscope lends itself to such varied content as educational videos, tutorials, FAQs, announcements, interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well. You can even use it to provide VIP access, customer support, and product demonstrations.

3. Engage

Just because it’s a different type of social media doesn’t mean all of the best practices you’ve learned fly out the window. Your attention-grabbing broadcast is a great start, but you still need to bring it home by engaging your audience. Post questions on Twitter to get your audience not only thinking about your content but also talking about it. Get involved in discussions about your broadcast and take the time to respond to comments.

4. Share Reviews

Without question, great reviews can work wonders for your brand. According to a study by Dimensional Research, a whopping 90 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews. Now, combine that with the appeal of not just video, but live video. Use Periscope to ask your customers for feedback and use it again to share live video reviews—good reviews, of course. You can’t lose!

5. Build Trust

Consumers are much more likely to buy from and return to brands they trust. Use Periscope to provide a new level of transparency by allowing your customers to see your face (or your employees’ faces) and listen to your voice as you answer questions about your brand and products. And as much as possible, keep it unscripted so that your message comes across as natural and genuine while showing off a bit of your personality.

Periscope isn’t just the latest hot thing. It’s a valuable tool for reaching your target audience, getting its attention, and boosting engagement. Use the above tips to incorporate Periscope into your brand’s marketing plans.

f9756b57-646c-475a-8bdc-1d355f00fa23

5 Reasons Your Brand Should Be on Periscope

periscope

No brand can afford to rest on its laurels, thinking last year’s, last week’s or yesterday’s marketing is enough to keep its audience interested and engaged. You have to continually market, finding new ways to gain exposure and get the right people paying attention. One exciting new way to do that is with Periscope.

What is Periscope?

In February 2015, Twitter made a bold move by purchasing a live video streaming mobile app called Periscope. Twitter launched the app in late March, and it’s been hot, hot, hot ever since. It’s still a fairly new tool, which lends quite a bit to its hotness, and it’s an excellent way to gain more exposure for your brand. Fresh out of the gate, Periscope had a cool million users just 10 days post launch. By August, it boasted 10 million active users. And guess what else? It’s still growing.

Here’s why you need it for your brand:

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instagram ideas for brands

Instagram Content Ideas for Brands

instagram ideas for brands

Visual content is king, and Instagram is its court. More than any other social media platform, Instagram provides your audience with a way to visually connect with your brand, taking a virtual look inside your business. Of course, any social media platform is only as good as the content you post on it. To put Instagram to work for your business, post images that are not only creative, beautiful, inspirational, or fun but also accurate representations of your brand and the subject matter you find important. Above all, aim for fun and interesting, taking care to avoid obvious marketing.

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which social network

How to Decide Which Social Network is Right for Your Business

which social network

There are already more social networks than we know what to do with. In addition to those trying to fix social networking, like Ello, there are networks for almost every niche. So how do you pick the ones your business should spend time on.

Let’s be clear: it’s almost impossible to do several social networks well on your own. If you’re a small business without an individual or team dedicated to social media, you’ll find it hard to handle all the social media marketing tasks for every network. Unless you’re planning to hire a marketing agency you have to pick a place to start, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or another network.

Here are some of the questions to ask to help you make the decision.

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brand voice

Finding Your Brand Voice

brand voice

Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the perfect person to ask about finding his voice – his virtuoso portrayal of a stuttering King George in The King’s Speech so cogently highlighted the frustrations of not having a clear way to communicate with a community. Some brands are equally tongue-tied, unclear about what the brand should sound like, leaving them either silent in social media or sounding haphazard and unrehearsed.

Get over your brand speech impediments by considering the following concepts, all of which play an important role in a well-rounded social media brand voice.

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negative comments

Negative Comments About Your Brand? Make Them Work for You

negative comments
It’s never pleasant to receive negative comments and reviews. You work hard to deliver your very best products and services, and bad feedback stings. However, every business receives negative feedback from time to time. It’s how you handle it that sets you apart and keeps your customers coming back to you despite one less-than-stellar experience. And it’s how you respond that influences new customers to give you a chance, despite any negative reviews. The most important thing to remember is that social media is a public forum. Your audience (current and potential customers) will be paying attention to how you handle criticism and complaints.

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social media konmari

Social Media: The KonMari Way

social media konmari

The KonMari Method is taking closets everywhere by storm. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a system of decluttering that focuses on keeping only the items that spark joy in your life. And though the book that reveals the system, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, is all about organizing your belongings at home, you can use it for social media too. Here’s how to organize your social media the KonMari way:

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How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

It’s only a small snippet of code, but it’s the difference between knowing whether your marketing is working or failing miserably. I’m talking about analytics software, which packs a powerful punch in terms of helping you to understand your website, social media profiles and customers and letting you know whether you’re succeeding in getting attention for your brand and making your business better known.

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Social Media Management Checklist

Social Media Management Checklist

Social Media Management Checklist

So you’ve signed up for a bunch of social media accounts? Now, you can sit back and bask in your accomplishments, right? Wrong. So, so wrong. Signing up for social media accounts is only a small part of the battle. You need more than just a presence on well-known social media networks. You have to engage on them, and, well, be social. This means putting daily effort into developing your network and increasing your online visibility. How? By attending to housekeeping, monitoring, posting, and reaching out each day.

Here are some must-do tasks to include on your social media checklist:

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social sharing

The Power of the Ask – How to Encourage Social Sharing

social sharing

Did you know that among the five most popular words on Twitter are the words please and retweet? That tells you something very important. If you want to encourage people to share your work on social media, sometimes all you have to do is ask. It’s a call to action, social media style. Most people can’t resist a heartfelt appeal mixed with a little politeness. That’s why one of the things it’s most important to master in your content marketing is the call to action.

1. Include Social Sharing Buttons …

Social media is full of them. On Twitter they are pretty short (like “pls RT”) because you only have 140 characters to play with. The Facebook “like” and “share” buttons have built in calls to action which it’s hard to resist. In my opinion, that’s much clearer than the Google “+1” button, because many people still don’t know what that is. The point is, if you’re trying to improve your social sharing rate, calls to action are a must. A typical blog post could include:

  • social sharing buttons at the top or bottom of the post
  • a floating sharing toolbar to the left
  • a written call to action within the text

2. … But Not Too Many

If you use a social sharing plugin, it’s tempting to include as many buttons as possible. That’s a mistake. Neil Patel found that when he added LinkedIn and Pinterest to his default of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, the number of shares fell by 29%. In other words, you’re likely to get more shares if you give readers less choice. That’s why it’s important to focus mainly on the networks that are most important for building your business.

3. Include CTAs in Videos

Since online video is so huge, get people to share by including calls to action within the video. Some people never watch to the end so having a call to action about a minute in, plus another one at the end is a good strategy. If you use the right tools, you won’t just get social shares from your video, but email signups too. And by the way, the multiple CTA technique works in written content, too! 🙂

4. Be Specific

The more specific your call to action is, the more likely it is that readers will do what you want. So if you just want shares, ask for shares; if you want comments and shares, ask for that. And if you want them to share their favorite part of the post (made easier with the SumoMe suite of tools), than ask for that. Here are some tips on improving social media calls to action from Social Media Examiner.

5. Keep Asking

Even if you’ve asked for the share before, you can ask again, says Canva:

Don’t make the mistake of putting your call to action out there and then moving on. Share that same call to action across each of your social networks multiple times and in many different ways.

What works best for you with social media calls to action?

 

The Power of the Aask – How to Encourage Social Sharing

Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, Oh My!

Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, Oh My!

Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, Oh My!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever wanted to know how to use social media advertising for your business, particularly your B2B business? Look no further – here’s our guide to advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

We cover general advertising tips, plus capabilities and use for each of the three major social ads platforms.

Feel free to download and share this eBook direct from Slideshare. (Hint: View the Notes for the presentation by clicking on the Notes tab next to comments and statistics.)

And of course, if we can assist with your social media advertising programs, please don’t hesistate to contact us!

Social Media Advertising Overview: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn from crackerjackmarketing

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walking dead

Social Media Lessons from The Walking Dead

walking dead

What You Can Learn About Social Media From The Walking Dead

You can learn a lot from watching The Walking Dead (TWD), and not just how to survive a zombie apocalypse (Hint: Always stay with Rick and Daryl). Believe it or not, TWD teaches lessons that are critical for social media. Here are 5 social media tips you can take from TWD.

Seek Alternative Routes

The poor characters of TWD never have it easy. Just when they see light at the end of the tunnel, bam! Here comes something or someone nasty to ruin it all. How many times have we gasped because the road or route the group wants to take is blocked by walkers, fallen trees, disabled vehicles or dregs of humanity bent on having our heroes for supper. What do they do? Well, sometimes they have to plow ahead, but the results are usually much better (and less bloody) when they have an alternate route for reaching their destination.

The same can be said in social media, especially in light of the latest Facebook EdgeRank apocalypse. If you can’t reach your destiny (eg. Target audience) through Facebook, find a different route.

Remember, Facebook is just one of your options. Here are some of the other roads to take when a hungry zombie (eg. Facebook disaster) gets in your way.

 

 

Twitter has over 215 million active users, with the average user spending close to 3 hours there every day.

LinkedIn has more than 270 million users, so if your journey includes B2B, this is the place to go.

Google+ boasts over 250 million active users and offers cool tools for marketing and collaboration, such as Hangouts.

Pinterest has over 20 million active users, and yes this is less than the three above, but it’s growing every day. Let’s face it, people love to pin.

The point? Find out where your audience is and get yourself over there, even if it’s not (or isn’t only) Facebook.

Act Quickly

You can’t wait to strike a walker. If you hesitate or spend too much time saying “I won’t,” when you really just kind of have to, chances are pretty good you’re going to become someone’s snack. The same can be said for customer service in social media. Don’t over-analyze the situation. Respond quickly. And always remember that it’s not only important to act but also critical that you take the appropriate action. In TWD, it’s not always smart to fire a gun at a stray walker. That could bring the whole horde on. Instead, act quickly, but do apply common sense (Use that ax, friend).

Forbes offers 7 Reasons You Need to Be Using Social Media as your Customer Service Portal. And don’t make the mistake of thinking consumers aren’t expecting to reach you this way. According to J.D. Power and Associates, almost 70 percent of consumers have headed to a business’ social media page to get the help they need.

Zombies Come in Hordes

And so does negative chatter on social media. Walkers hear another walker chowing down, and they want to get in on all the action. They hear a scream or a few too many loud chews, and suddenly they’re everywhere. People are essentially the same. They have noses that sniff out negativity online, even if only to find out which products or services they should avoid. And, sadly, it only takes one person to start a firestorm of negative sentiment.

What can you do?

Have a plan for monitoring chatter through a single dashboard (just makes your life easier).

Set up alerts to inform you right away if certain words or hashtags are used in relation to your company.

Respond quickly (see Point 2 above), keeping honesty and transparency priorities.

It’s Not a One-Man Show

Sure, Rick is the group’s recognized leader but he often takes the advice of his fellow zombie-apocalypse survivors in determining the next move and strategy. Your social media strategy shouldn’t rely solely on one person either. Remember how things were with Rick after he lost Lori? Dude kind of shut down, and who could blame him? When it comes to your business, you don’t want to be stuck scrambling because your social media genius is down and out. Focus on having a whole team of brilliant people who can (and consistently do) rock and roll at a moment’s notice.

Need some tips for assembling your TWD-worthy dream team? Check here.

Expect the Unexpected

Part of what makes TWD so exciting is the fact that you never know what’s waiting around the corner. You just know that something is waiting. The same goes for social media. How so? Well, the thing to remember is that social media is a two-way street. You need to participate (engage, interact, rinse, repeat), but so do your fans. In many ways, you are putting your brand in the hands of your fans. Sometimes they will surprise you in delightful ways; sometimes the surprises will be far from pleasant. What you can count on is that they will surprise you. The takeaway from this? Just as our TWD heroes can’t always prepare for the worst (that revolving door scene–poor Noah), you can’t always stay ahead of the game. But that doesn’t mean you have to become walker food. Make a plan, do the best you can, and like Daryl, always be ready. Carol’s no slouch either. That chick is a survivor, come what may (well so far).

Consider yourself lucky there aren’t walkers waiting for you around every corner. Because, really, who has time for that while running a business? Still, it pays to be prepared and stay strong. Things do get dicey out there in social media land. The above TWD tips will see you through.

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Social Media Lessons from The Walking Dead

relationship building

Relationship Building Via Social Media

relationship building

We know what you’re thinking: platforms like Facebook and Twitter are perfect for generating leads. And yes, you can use social media for lead generation. But if you focus on that alone, you really don’t get the gist of how this thing works. The be-all and end-all of social media for business is, wait for it: relationship building. Without it, you’re dead in the water.

 

 

Why Is Relationship Building Important?

Chances are there are many other businesses offering similar products or services, so why should anyone choose you? Having a good product or service is enough, right? Think again. Social media is work and you have to do the following to make it translate into dollars:

  • Grab your audience’s interest (yes, grab it)
  • Build trust
  • Increase exposure
  • Demonstrate the value in connecting with you
  • Keep your audience’s attention
  • Nurture your relationships

Over three-quarters of small businesses get customers through social media. Be a part of this.

How to Build Relationships Using Social Media Platforms

This is both easy and hard. It’s easy because, well, being social isn’t rocket science. It’s hard because it takes time and effort. Here’s what you have to do:

1. Identify your audience and discover what its members need. Forget about your products and services for a minute. Stop gasping in shock. It’s for a good cause. Now think. What does your audience need that you can provide through social media? Let’s say your audience needs ways to save time and money. Provide related hints and tips that make them look forward to your posts and share your content with others in need of the same advice.

2. Make sure everything you share is of value. A quick way to lose the interest and respect of your target audience is to post content just for the sake of posting. These types of posts are both obvious and irritating. No one has time to bother with them. If you post willy-nilly, low-value content, you will find yourself unfriended and unliked with surprising speed. Be all about the meaty information that truly helps your audience.

3. Get involved in conversations. Sure, you have a lot to say, but social media relationship building requires back-and-forth sharing. Respond to others’ posts, ask questions, offer answers, make suggestions, and always respond to comments directed at you. Show others that you are interesting and interested. But keep your responses genuine. Faking it is no longer acceptable.

Think setting and forgetting is the right way to go with social media? Be careful, auto-posting decreases engagement by a whopping 70 percent on Facebook. Expect poor results on other platforms as well.

4. Get personal. Building trust often means getting to know prospects personally. Many prefer to give their business to someone they know and like. In contrast, people are often turned off by out-of-nowhere sales pitches. Getting personal builds relationships that help you get your foot in the door.

How do you build relationships via social media? Please share with us!

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Relationship Building Via Social Media

social search

Social Search: What the Heck Is It?

social search
With so many social terms whizzing by, it’s easy to forget if you’re coming or going. Maybe you finally have terms like engagement, consumer advocate, and ROI figured out. Well, now we want to toss another one your way — social search. Don’t worry, though. We have no plans to leave you twisting in the wind. We’re going to lay it all out for you, in terms you can understand, without so much as wrinkling your brow.

So Seriously, What the Heck Is Social Search?

The long and short of it: Social search is a different way of finding the content you want.

So what does that mean: Unlike the traditional searches that most people are used to, it considers the searcher’s social graph when returning results.

In plain English, please: Social search makes it easy to find content posted by people and businesses within your social circle. With this type of search, a person gets all that juicy content from people in his social network. It omits the stuff every Tom, Dick, Harry, and, well, Bonnie posts.

While traditional search will likely remain the primary tool for finding content, more people are using social media every day. Over time, social search is likely to grow in importance.

 

 

How to Benefit from Social Search

Okay, but how is social search going to help you, beyond being really sorta cool? Essentially, the people in your network want to hear from you. They don’t dither over whether to bother with your content. They’re pretty much a warm sell. So social search means they can go looking for all of that amazing content you post and easily find it without wading through the drek.

Here’s how you can, and definitely should make your content more social search friendly and increase visits to your website or blog.

  • Use keywords and hashtags in your posts. Whether you’re tweeting, posting on Facebook, or updating on LinkedIn, you can expect the search engines to index the content you post, as long as it isn’t private. You can help make your content easy to find by incorporating carefully chosen keywords and adding hashtags. Let’s look at Twitter for just a sec. Tweets that include hashtags get twice as much engagement as those that skip this. And if you skip the keywords, it’s like tossing your special fish into an entire ocean of others swimmers and expecting yours to get caught. Do you feel that lucky?
  • Only use relevant keywords in your content. The use of irrelevant keywords can hurt you with the search engines. Keyword spamming is bad, very bad.
  • Add links. Improve the chances that social searches will lead to an action you want your audience to take, such as buying something or downloading a free report, by incorporating links. If you link to one of your most attractive products or informative content you want your audience to see, you have the potential to get more than just traffic out of this type of search. Show them what they want. Then show them again, and again.
  • Use long-tail keywords. Often, people search using longer keyword phrases, so including them in your content ensures they will find you. For example, instead of “math tutoring,” you might benefit from incorporating a long-tail keyword like “algebra tutoring services in Atlanta.” Want some really good news? Consumers often search for the longer phrases late in the buying cycle, and you know what that means, don’t you? That’s right. More sales.

Don’t take a nap, pass go, overanalyze, or do any of the other things that routinely slow your amazing ascension to the top. Start using these tips right now. No, seriously. Why are you still reading? Go already!

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Social Search What the Heck Is It

annoy your fans

How to Annoy Your Fans on Social Media

annoy your fans

As in the brick-and-mortar world, it is surprisingly easy to develop social media bad habits. You know how you start out eating ice cream at midnight just a couple of nights per week? Then, before you know it, you’re eating a bowl of the good stuff every night before bed, and packing on the pounds. The same goes for social media. Bad habits snowball until your formerly interested fans wants to hear from anyone but you—anyone.

Often, we develop bad social media habits in the hopes of becoming more efficient and effective, but these no-no’s actually undermine our efforts. Here are 5 ways even smart business people annoy their audiences on social media. Take a look and pledge to avoid them at all costs:

Begging

Sure, it’s kind of cute when my dog does it, but it’s not so cute for brands try to employ the same tactic to get new followers.

Begging is one of the most common and annoying bad habits displayed on social media sites. Business people post or tweet something and then beg others to share it or retweet it. This comes across as overly self-interested and doesn’t even pretend to offer value for your audience. Of course, in most cases, you will get some people to share or retweet this way. This will generally work because they either always share when asked or feel sorry for you. Most people will simply ignore your request and perhaps even feel embarrassed for you. You’ll get on some people’s nerves so much that they’ll unlike, unfriend or unfollow you. Crap! And social media sites hate it too.

What to do instead: Share meaningful posts that provide value for your audience members, entertain them, and speak to their needs. Funny stories, awesome photos, and information they can’t get elsewhere will get the job done. And guess what? They’ll like, share and follow, not because you had the social media equivalent of puppy dog eyes but because you shared something worthwhile.

 

 

Gimmicks

Everyone likes free stuff, but when it’s the overdone, you could be hurting your brand.

Social media is supposed to help businesses engage with their audiences, but many forget all about that in favor of giveaways or contests intended to boost likes. With this type of competition, you offer a prize just to get people to like your page or follow you. You might think you’re slick, but guess what? It’s not that hard to get your number. This is just a sneaky way to beg. And you’ll get out what you put into it. Many of those your contest attracts will simply stop following you once the contest ends. Repeat after me, “Less is more and just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

What to do instead: Use giveaways sparingly, so that your audience is really excited when the next one comes around. Focus on giveaways that encourage your audience to engage, such as by sharing how your products make them feel, what your company means to them, or even doing something cool, such as creating a new slogan, banner, or ad for your company.

#TooManyHashtags

Do your status update demonstrate that you’ve never met a hashtag you didn’t like?

Hashtags definitely have an important role in tweet categorization and the curation of content. They actually help double engagement. But there absolutely is too much of a good thing. Cramming your tweets full of hashtags is a no-no. You’ve seen them—the posts that almost seem to have more hashtags than actual content. Can you say super annoying? Even if all the hashtags are relevant, just don’t do it. Please.

What to do instead: Trim all that fat. Stick to a maximum of two hashtags per tweet. On a platform like Instagram, you can go with a couple more, but make four your maximum. You will have the urge to add in more. Others do it, right? Just say no. Your audience will thank you for it.

World Domination

Okay, it’s really “feed domination,” but “world domination” probably got your attention.

It is important to post regularly, so if you drop the ball for a bit, you may feel tempted to lay it on thick when you return. This is usually a bad idea. Sending a flurry of tweets or posting Facebook update after Facebook update in an effort to “fix” your mistake will only annoy your audience.

What to do instead: Just start posting on a regular schedule again, and try not to go AWOL any time soon.

Automation

If you’re a smart marketer, I may have just raised your hackles a bit. But, I’m talking about cross-posting automation here, not scheduling tools like Hootsuite.

Cross-posting automation. Yuck. Yuck. Remember that your best bet for social media success is tailoring your message to match each of the social media sites you use. You want to engage not broadcast, right? Syncing your cross posts is both lazy and spammy. A lazy spammer, who needs that? When you post this way, you tell your audience, you don’t care enough to speak to them personally. Think about it. You tweet 15 times in one day and have those messages cross over to Facebook. Those short messages feel awfully impersonal on Facebook, which has a much more personal feel. And to make matters worse, your audience can’t get away from all your stuff because you’ve gone ahead and clogged up their feed with it. Good job.

What to do instead: So you want to share messages over several different platforms? Take the time to post each one manually, crafting the content to fit the platform. Remember, you have a limited number of characters on Twitter but on Facebook, you can go wild. And keep in mind that with automated cross posting, images, links, and text don’t always appear the way you want them to. Entering them manually means you can make your posts more attractive and eye-catching too.

Which bad social media habits would you add to this list? What do businesses need to avoid? Share with us!

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How to Annoy Your Fans on Social Media

What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

Social media doesn’t just emulate life. In some ways, it emulates television too, especially good television like Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan, read on to learn what Game of Thrones has to teach those of us who work with brands who strive for social media success. Not a fan yet? There’s still plenty to learn here. Read up, avoid the spoiler (towards the end), and then start watching.

A Little Social Listening Goes a Long Way

Varys, aka The Spider, has little birds that bring him news. He can’t be everywhere at the same time, but his little birdies keep him on top of things. The same concept applies to social listening tools. You can’t be everywhere or listen to everyone on the Internet at all times. Skip the little birds, though, and use a social media monitoring tool, such as Radian6 or CustomScoop, to find out what people are saying about your brand and its products and services.

Step out of the Box and Try New Things

Life is pretty dull if you do the same things day in and day out. Jon Snow is a natural risk taker. First, he took up a post on The Wall, and in Season 3, he got frisky with Ygritte, a Wildling. He must later account for his actions (Season 4), but even then, he’s not content to settle for what’s always been done. Knowing that the Wildlings plan to strike Castle Black, with the White Walkers to up their odds, he argues for going on the offense rather than staying put to defend the castle. He also wants to seal the tunnel under Castle Black to keep enemies out.

Ser Alliser Thorne is adamant about staying put. His argument? They’ve never done it before, and they won’t do it now. Jon, on the other hand, is all about trying something new to get better results. Fortunately, for social media users, trying new things isn’t as risky as joining The Night’s Watch or fighting White Walkers. Be proactive about trying new initiatives in addition to continuing the tried and true. This is critical for reaching more of your target audience and keeping its members interested. As in the Game of Thrones, complacency has no place in social media.

Get a Great Team 

Daenerys Targaryen, or Khaleesi (whatever you choose to call her), has something going for her that every business social media user should have. No, it’s not the ability to walk through fire, though that could come in handy. Instead, it’s an awesome team. The Dragon Queen Ladyhas a translator, advisors, a community manager, and an entire army of advocates. That army? She’s not dragging it along for the ride or threatening it into submission. Her soldiers are with her voluntarily because she won them over. You can do the same with members of your own audience, and they will become advocates of your brand.

Be a Giver

Back in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, brave little Arya Stark made friends with Jaqen H’ghar and then managed to save his life. How did he return the favor (three times over)? Well, he offered to kill three people for her (because “only death can repay life”). While we certainly don’t advocate killing anyone, there is an important social media lesson to be learned from Jaqen H’ghar: Always give more than you get. Be generous with your retweets, shares, and promotion of your community’s content. Jaqen H’ghar received something valuable from Arya before he became a giver, but social media users should deviate a bit from his example. With social media, it’s important to start giving before you get anything in return. Still, the main principle is the same.

Show Them the Money 

There’s so much we could learn from Tyrion Lannister in terms of using wit. But since we are still awaiting his fate in the season finale (or perhaps the next season premiere), it’s too soon to draw any parallels here. One thing we can learn for sure, though, is that money talks and, well, you know the rest. This is especially true when it comes to advocates. Tyrion has paid Bronn handsomely for his services. In exchange, Bronn has been a loyal and dedicated protector. I know you’re probably thinking of how {Warning! Warning! Spoiler alert! Skip to the end if you haven’t made your way through this season yet!} Bronn has decided not to testify for Tyrion at his trial. The same lesson applies here, though. Bronn received a better offer, and again we see what happens when you show them the money. Keep in mind, too, that even though Bronn is no longer Tyrion’s paid advocate, he isn’t testifying against him either. The takeaway? Yes, it’s nice when we get something for free, but value your advocates and compensate them well.

There’s one more thing you can learn from the characters of Game of Thrones: Always seize the day. Apply these tips today to make sure you won’t miss a single opportunity to grow your social media network and meet your business goals.

What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

Social media has changed the way brands reach customers. It has redefined interacting and sharing, provided new ways to use content to promote products and services, and made engagement easier. If that’s not enough, it’s also amplified the voice of the customers. Here’s what three top brands can teach us about social media and viral content.

1. Coca Cola Highlights the Importance of Accountability and Transparency

Coca Cola is undeniably the most sought-after brand when it comes to the soft drink industry. Still, it is impressive to see how this big brand is embracing the social media culture to follow through with customers and promote its campaigns.

For instance, Coca Cola created an Expedition 206 campaign in which it used social media to pick three individuals to act as the company’s Happiness Ambassadors. These individuals will go around the world to interact with people and share the idea of happiness on a personal level and via real-life contact. Using videos, photography, blog postings, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social networks, the three will share their adventures with the world as they happen.It’s heartening to know that a big brand like Coca Cola realizes the importance of being accountable and transparent to its consumers by making them part of the campaign through social media.

Coca Cola knows how to touch people’s lives. The proof of this is evident in how the company effectively defined sharing happiness. Where will happiness strike next? Isn’t that worth a share?

2. Dove’s Meaningful Content

When we think about soap, we think of making our skin smoother, healthier and cleaner. We think about beauty being only skin deep.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches have changed the paradigm of content used for promoting a brand. It promoted something intangible and deep that made it more interesting. It dealt with a self-esteem boosting message: “You are more beautiful than you think.” It was a great piece of a meaningful content without showing much of the logo. You wouldn’t even think it was a soap advertisement.

Social media is more than just knowing a certain product’s specifications. It has changed the arena of human experience. We want to be aware of almost everyone’s perspective. How we look at things and what people think about us—that’s what we really care about. That’s what we really want to share. That’s the reason this content became the most viral ad.

3. IKEA’s Interactive and Engaging Way of Bringing Great Relevance to Your Home

Change begins at home. No matter who you are or what your design tastes, there’s something IKEA offers that will really help create a beautiful space.

Some of IKEA’s campaigns use interactive and engaging online videos to make small places big. They are useful for everyone. Others follow the instructions shared through blogs or through content that has been shared on the Web and via social media.

The satisfaction IKEA brings its customers and the fascinating content it creates is a great experience worth sharing with family and friends.

These three big brands shared major social media lessons by highlighting the importance of authenticity, accountability and transparency when communicating with customers. Moreover, creating more meaningful, interactive and engaging content inspires consumer to share their great experiences with their friends, families and other members of the social community.


What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are part of our daily lives. They serve as highly effective strategies for marketers and as social mirrors and megaphones for individuals. How interactive are you? How well do you know your favorite platform? Are you a social media sinner or saint? There are seven fatal sins of social media. Are you guilty or not? It’s time to find out.

Misappropriation

“Do not unwrap a piece of candy with a sledgehammer.”

The analogy of unwrapping a piece of candy with a sledgehammer is a brilliant example of misappropriation. The sledgehammer in the cyber world is anything that catches the social media user’s attention, and the piece of candy is the brand.

Whenever something is trending online, do you take advantage of the social media craze to promote your brand? Just because you want to get your audience’s attention doesn’t mean you should force a connection between the trending topic and your brand. The content about your brand may look like spam if it doesn’t provide a clear relation to the hottest trend. Likewise, it may give the appearance of intentionally soliciting social media engagement. Remember that a trend doesn’t last forever, so don’t get carried away. Keep your brand’s footprint on the ground.

Abandonment

If only your post could talk, it would beg you not to leave. The moment you introduce your brand to the Internet marketplace and then suddenly drop off from engagement, you are stealing the curiosity and peace of mind of the millions of people who see your brand and wait for answers to queries about your product. You are boosting their social media anxiety, especially if they are sharing your content and commenting on your posts but you are not responding at all.

Taking your brand to any social media platform is one of the best marketing strategies, but abandonment does not contribute to a worthwhile result. Never leave your post. Engage and personalize your interaction; doing so will make your brand remarkable.

Manipulation

Nowadays, people spend a great deal of time on Facebook newsfeeds viewing other people’s updates, videos and photos. Since social media has emerged as an effective tool for marketing, developers have designed and introduced more powerful tools to help marketers get the maximum value out of their social media marketing efforts.

For instance, Facebook’s Edge Rank determines which posts appear in the newsfeed. The reason brands are posting photos is simply because they remain in the newsfeed for longer. Since people can be manipulated into viewing your posts, why not invest in sharing inspiring content?

Ignorance

Did you know you can’t use Instagram photos in advertisements without express consent?  Did you know it’s illegal to ask Facebook users to share a post as part of a contest entry? Did you know any social media platform can suspend you if you’re not carefully following its rules?

It only takes one tick on the “I agree” box without reading the terms and conditions to be ignorant. Take the time to read the terms of service.

Monotony

Are you getting redundant with your content?  If you were in your audience’s shoes, would you get bored? Monotonous posts kill interest.

Unleash the creativity in you. Research and create content related to your audience’s passion. If your followers like photography, do not talk about photography techniques all the time. You can come up with fresh content, such as the latest but cheapest camera accessories on the market or different ways to clean the camera.

Narcissism

Do you find it annoying to see your news feed flooded with photos of the same person or quotations and updates of people glorifying themselves? Selfie syndrome is an inevitable reaction in our social culture. We are now living in the me generation.

Remember, social media is not just about you. There are billions of human beings contributing posts to a platform. Make your content stand out and worth sharing.  Isn’t it cool to get recognition from other people?

Uniformity

Let’s figure out how uniformity affects the social media strategy. Each social media site favors different types and frequencies of content. For instance, images do better on Facebook. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but you can post more frequently to Twitter than to Facebook.

Casual language is acceptable on Twitter and Facebook while most people prefer professionalism when using LinkedIn. With these key differences, you simply can’t cross-post the same content at the same time and get the same level of effectiveness.

Interaction and engagement are keys to meeting your social media goals and keeping your audience’s interest. Avoid the seven fatal sins of social media, and you’ll have the best chance of standing out in the social media crowd.

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

Do you know a teen or young adult who isn’t tied to their mobile phone? According to Pew Research, 80% of 18-34 year olds own a smartphone – and they’re all using them a lot. If you want your brand to appeal to this audience, implementing an effective mobile marketing strategy is the way to go. But how do you capture the attention of individuals who are always on the go? A good start would be to capitalize on the channels that they always access on their mobile devices.

Social Media

When it comes to mobile marketing, social media is the top channel to reach millennials. Make sure that your social media strategy translates from desktop to mobile; since the layout space for mobile devices are smaller and more compressed, less text and more pictures and graphics can garner more attention and interest from millennials. Promote your brand by sharing relevant yet fun videos and photos on social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Other social sharing sites most appealing to the younger generation include Snapchatand Vine.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns feel old school. but continue to be a golden ticket in the mobile age. A Rosetta Marketing survey reveals that 68% of millennials check their emails hourly;

Millennials love to shop on their mobiles, so use email to promote coupons and showcase products. Announce contests and sweeps via mobile, and promote upcoming events. Another option is to collaborate with email deal providers like Groupon and LivingSocial to promote your product or service for you, or barter emails with other like-minded companies to get in front of a new audience.

Be aware that millennials will delete emails that are not optimized for mobile devices – and make sure that the click-through experience is also optimized for mobile.

Apps

Millennials absolutely love apps; they use them for many purposes, which include entertainment and gaming, social networking, online shopping, and utilities.  One type of app that is proving to be a hit to the younger crowd is instant messaging. This type of apps pose a huge potential when it comes to advertising your brands, because millennials relish the idea of being able to instantly connect with their friends. The immense popularity of this platform convinced Facebook to acquire instant messaging service Whatsapp for an eye-popping $19 billion. Despite critics calling it as one of the most lopsided deals in internet history and other pundits expecting an eventual bust, Facebook believes the acquisition will be worth every penny as they express optimism the number of Whatsapp users will surge to 1 billion within the next few years.

Another effective way of integrating apps into your mobile marketing scheme is to leverage television advertisements to drive mobile engagement as explained in this MediaPost article by Eddie DeGuia.

Should you create your own, branded app? It depends on whether you have enough content to keep it interesting and active. Otherwise find ways to use existing apps, including social networks and text messaging apps.

Final Thoughts

It’s not only important that you engage in mobile marketing to reach millennials, you must also optimize online content for mobile devices. And keep your eyes and ears open for the next new thing, it’s likely millennials got there first.


What other mobile platforms do you use to reach out to millennials? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

 

reaching teens with social media

Reaching Teens Using Social Media

reaching teens with social media

Co-Authored by Stephanie Schwab and Archie Alibasa

“The Young and the Restless” is not only a popular American soap opera, it’s also an accurate description of the teens today. According to Forrester Research, teenagers today, including the group considered “millennials,” have a strong need to be connected on the internet more than any other generation.

Teens are able to fulfill this desire because they have the time and energy to be active online on a regular basis, compared to other age groups. One of the best ways to gain the attention of millennials as your target audience, is to reach out to them via social networks. But with so many existing, not to mention up-and-coming, social media platforms, you can’t possibly delve into all of them to meet marketing goals. Instead of juggling several social networks to keep up with the ‘trend”, it’s smarter and much more efficient to choose networks proven to be popular, effective and easy to use.  Here are the five social networks where you can establish an effective inbound marketing strategy directed to teens.

5 Social Networks to Use to Reach Teens

Facebook

If you‘re wondering what’s the best social network for reaching out to teens, keep looking: there is no definitive answer. Teens are not the most loyal when it comes to apps, tools and social networks. For many years, Facebook has demonstrated its dominance in the social media scene; however, research conducted by Pew Reseach Center reveals that Facebook’s popularity is waning among the younger crowd. 

However, a large number of teens out there still maintain their Facebook account; when it comes to reaching out to the younger generation, Facebook is still one of the top social networks. But remember that the key to using Facebook with all demographics is engagement and participation. Your Facebook feed should not only contain photos, videos and text appealing to teens, they should also encourage responses from them. After all, most people, not just teens, get excited to see their likes, comments and followers they have on Facebook.  

Twitter

Who knew that a microblogging site will become a phenomenon in the field of social networking? But Twitter’s “tweets,” messages that are restricted to only 140 characters, became an instant hit, especially among teenagers. This format is exactly what teens find appealing as they don’t have to come up with coherent paragraphs like the ones required in their English class. Tweets are short to write and quick to read, but they can let you in with what’s new and most talked about in and around the world, especially in the field of pop culture.  Teens also gravitate to Twitter because it’s a widely known promotional platform for celebrities. (It also doesn’t hurt that Twitter allows anonymous profiles, thus potentially hiding teens’ tweets from their parents.)

The short-short tweet format makes it tricky for any marketer to get the millennials’ attention. Don’t blatantly push your product or services on Twitter. Instead, create a feed that establishes an identity that teens can relate to. To gain followers, follow other prominent people, businesses or organizations. Participate in trending topics most relevant to teens and your marketing objectives.

Instagram

Teens love taking and sharing photos, and that’s why Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for the young and trendy. On Instagram, users are not only able to share photos instantly, they can also edit these photos and write short descriptions about them. Editing can be in the form of using artistic filters and special effects enhancing their look and message. Other Instagram staples that excite teens are the “comment” and the “like” features. One way to meausre the success of your Instagram marketing campaign is by measuring the number of likes and comments you receive on your content.

Celebrities also have a presences on Instagram as they use it to connect with their fans. And where you have celebrities, a mob of teenagers will always follow. This is the reason why Instagram is a “must” when it comes to marketing to teens.

The Instagram challenge for brands is to come up with controversial, intriguing or fascinating photos that can captivate the hearts of the young. Instagram also lets users post 15-second videos. Hashtags are also a significant element in Instagram; use them to make the photos more visible to communities. 

Tumblr

Teens have a lot on their minds, and many of them choose Tumblr to express themselves. Though in many ways similar to other blogging platforms, Tumblr’s format is unlike WordPress or Blogger. This platform encourages the creation of short blogs, or “tumblelogs,” by users for the public to read. Most Tumblrs are filled with text, photos, and videos. Some of the Tumblrs that go viral collect memes and gifs which are highly appealing to teens.

Because of Tumblr’s style and format, it has become a hit among the younger generation who love to keep online diaries and at the same time, share photos, music videos and funny stories with their friends. Tumblr is also an important source of information about youngsters nowadays: it can tell you what’s new and trending, and helps you understand millennials’ dreams and aspirations. Unlike Facebook, which appeals to a wider range of age groups, Tumblr is mostly teen and young adult territory. If your target audience is teenagers, this is the perfect avenue to get the teens’ attention and get ahead of your competitors.

Snapchat

Like Tumblr, Snapchat is mostly a teen social network. It’s unique among top social networks in that shared photos are automatically deleted from the page after seconds of viewing it. This distinct and often controversial feature allows teens to share stuff to their friends, without worrying about the prying eyes of adults.

Since Snapchat is such a dynamic and fleeting platform, remember to use highly creative photos in your content that spark curiosity and intrigue among your teen audience.

Reaching Teens with Social Media: 4 Brands that Get It

With more than three-fourths of teen Internet users using social media, it makes sense for brands connect with teens via social platforms. Facebook is (contrary to popular belief) still very popular with teens, and Twitter is on the rise. But just being visible on the same sites that your teen audience uses isn’t enough. Reaching this demographic requires you to be creative, visual, and interested in the things that drive them, make them think, and inspire them. It also means incorporating mobile, as nearly half of teen cell phone users have smartphones.

 

 

more

A few brands have recently mounted cool, and effective, campaigns aimed at teens. There’s lots to learn from in these examples.

Taco Bell Instagram Campaign Strengthens Foundation Efforts

taco-bell-graduate-for-mas-teens-resized-600

Given the recent rise of teens as Instagram users, Taco Bell leveraged the photo-sharing tool to reach out to the youth set. The Yearbook Time. Upload Yourself into Times Square program was meant to grab the attention of teens, promoting Taco Bell, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, and the company’s partnership with Get Schooled, a non-profit that focuses on improving high school graduation and college success rates. With this campaign, teens pledged to graduate from high school as part of the Graduate for Mas program and uploaded their own Instagram photos. Taco Bell donated $100 to The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens for each photo teens uploaded as part of the promotion. Additionally, some lucky teen participants got to see their names and photos posted in Times Square as part of a huge yearbook. 

This campaign focused on reaching teens where they are already active participants, speaking to an issue of importance to them, and driving brand and cause engagement. 

Read More: Taco Bell Instagram Campaign Strengthens Foundation Efforts 

Aahhhh! Coke Launches 61 Unique Websites For Teen-Focused Campaign

coke-teens-aah-18-resized-600

Coca-Cola has launched an innovative long-term effort intended to capture the attention of teen audiences and boost engagement via not just one website, but 61 of them. The Ahh Effect campaign focuses on Coke and the response drinkers should have when taking a sip: an audible “ahh.” In fact, that “ahh” is employed as a sound effect on the sites used for this campaign, which feature videos, games, and creative images. For example, visitors to one of the sites can use their cursors to move Coke bubbles around and hear the “ahhh” sound, or throw ice cubes in a glass of Coke. The campaign is designed to deliver the best experience via mobile.

Coke envisions this campaign as a multi-year efforts, so we can expect it will change and grow as new platforms and technologies emerge. 

Read More: Aahhhh! Coke Launches 61 Unique Websites For Teen-Focused Campaign

OZU University: Your Future Facebook Timeline

game-of-your-life-teen-facebook-resized-600

The Game of Life Facebook app is aimed at students in the process of deciding where they want to pursue higher education. The goal is to attract new students to the brand-new OZU University in Istanbul, by allowing them a glimpse into the future. The app gives students the opportunity to make virtual choices for their life at OZU and then take earning a degree at the university on a test drive. Then, the app lets students view a projected timeline set 5 years after graduation from OZU. Users get a view of the future they might have if they decide to attend the university.

The campaign is particularly clever because it uses students’ real data from Facebook, keeping them engaged where they already are, and making it real without requiring them to enter data on a third-party site.

Read More: OZU University: Your Future Facebook Timeline

3 Ways Sharpie is Engaging Teens With Social Media

sharpie-teen-facebook-resized-600

Much of Sharpie’s success with reaching teens via social media is attributable to its multi-channel approach. Sharpie doesn’t just seek out its audience on sites like Facebook and Twitter; it also has significant communities in Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. The brand uses videos and images to capture the attention of its teen fans, and it promotes self-expression and sharing by encouraging fans to contribute their own content, such as music video mashups. Sharpie has even incorporated fan content into an official music video.

Sharpie was one of the earliest pioneers in social media, so it’s no surprise that they’re on top of new platforms and constantly thinking of new ways to engage with fans of all ages.

Read More: 3 Ways Sharpie is Engaging Teens With Social Media

Overall, teen users spend more time on the Internet than adult users. Likewise, they tend to watch less television than their parents do, so brands have to find them where they are. So be prepared to see more and more teen-focused social media campaigns, coming soon to a laptop, and smartphone, near you.

Have you seen or created any cool teen-focused social media campaigns recently? We’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!

Reaching Teens Using Social Media

How To Apologize To Your Customers

How To Apologize To Your Customers

How To Apologize To Your Customers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle most things in life, and that includes crises of the technology hacking variety. Two recent hacking crises do an excellent job of illustrating how companies handle crises. One, involving Buffer, occurred in October 2013 and was handled quite well while another, involving Snapchat in January 2014, just wasn’t. One of the major differences between the crisis management demonstrated by these companies? The apology. Customers want to know that the companies they patronize care.

Here’s what Buffer did right:

Buffer acted quickly. No one likes to languish, wondering whether a company is aware of a problem and has definite plans to fix it. Buffer was right on top of things, responding to the problem within about an hour and letting its community know it was pausing posts and working on a fix. This stops people from panicking and speculating about what’s to come.

Buffer apologized—multiple times. There’s nothing worse than a company that just doesn’t seem to care how much it inconveniences its customers. Sometimes, it almost seems as if companies are afraid to admit responsibility. Did Buffer want its accounts hacked? Of course not. But it repeatedly apologized and let its users know it understood their anger and frustration. In fact, the CEO got right out there and apologized again and again.


Buffer provided frequent updates. The waiting is just killer. People want to know when they can expect a resolution. Buffer not only offered frequent, specific updates about what the company was doing to fix the problem, but it also provided these updates on multiple outlets, including its blog, Twitter, and Facebook. This ensured that its customers could easily find the updates without having to dig for them.

Responsiveness counts. Sometimes customers feel like they’re shouting questions to the wind, and nothing annoys a customer faster than feeling ignored. Buffer not only took the time to answer hundreds of tweets during the crisis, but it also continued to respond even after the problem was solved.

Especially by contrast to Buffer, whose breach came before Snapchat’s (thereby giving them a blueprint for superior crisis management!), Snapchat got their response all wrong. Massively wrong. Here’s why:

  • They let a whole week go by before it apologized to its users.
  • Their apology seemed grudging and insincere; it was included at the very bottom of a super-short post explaining how the company planned to prevent hackings going forward.
  • They didn’t encourage users to reach out to them if they had concerns.
  • They failed at keeping users updated on the progress towards a resolution.

To compare and contrast a bit further, here’s Buffer’s apology, direct from their CEO. (Click to enlarge)

buffer apology med

Hopefully you’ll never need to make this kind of apology – but if you do, now you know, there’s a right way and a wrong way!

How To Apologize To Your Customers

social media contests

The Pros and Cons of Social Media Contests and Promotions

social media contests

Social media contests are win-win opportunities for consumers and brands. Consumers enjoy the opportunity to win something–a gift certificate, a vacation, a t-shirt, a book, or a lamp. Who doesn’t love free stuff? And brands have the opportunity to grow their fan bases, build awareness, and engage with their target audiences. Here’s how contests can benefit your brand:

Read more

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

The social media revolution was – is – all about talking. It’s about putting your ideas out into the world to see how they connect and collide with others’.

But if the social media revolution is about talking, the social media revelation is about listening. (See what I did there? Eh, eh?)

Social listening is a hugely important piece of successful online engagement because it has everything to do with understanding our audience(s), developing a sense of empathy, and speaking to our customers in a language they can relate to. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the step that’s easiest to ignore. Why is that?

I think we ignore it because it’s genuinely hard, and it’s often overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost. For what should we be listening? To whom should we be listening? On which channels?

These are difficult questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Yet, to butcher an Oscar Wilde quote, social listening is too important to be taken seriously. So let’s have a little fun with it, shall we?

Interactive Social Listening Exercise

The following is an exercise to get you and your team excited about social listening, and ready to think about it strategically. It might also make your colleagues blush (win-win!).

Step 1: Listen

Gather your team. Anyone involved in social media, communications, marketing, etc. Play them this song (“Overnight Celebrity” by Twista – free player embedded below). Resist the urge to giggle as your colleagues squirm and contort their faces out of confusion.

Step 2: Analyze

Explain to them that they’ve just heard “Overnight Celebrity,” a song by one of the fastest rappers on the planet, Twista. Ask: what did you hear? What was the song about?

Step 3: Organize for listening

Break the group up into three sections and ask them to listen for the following things:

  • Group 1: listen for every time Twista says the word “girl”

  • Group 2: listen for names of brands and other celebrities

  • Group 3: listen for items you may find in a home

Step 4: Listen again

Play the song again (yes, again), asking each group to write as they listen.

Step 5: Analyze

When the song is over, refer to the lyrics of the song, posted here. Which group did the best? Which got the most results, which got the most accurate results, and which got the most interesting ones?

Step 6: Reflect

How did it go? How did people feel about this exercise? How did this new framing change the way everyone understood the song?

Step 7: Take the conversation to the next level

How does this experience compare with listening on social media? Well, Twista, as mentioned above, was once known for being the “fastest rapper” – so it’s hard to just hear the song and try to get the big idea. But when we focus our listening, we can “hear” better. The same is true for social listening.

Step 8: Consider this question

How do we focus our listening?

Note that answering this question has a lot to do with why we’re listening in the first place.

There are lots of reasons to “listen” online. A few are:

  • Brand management: understanding how, when, and why people talk about us

  • Community engagement: understanding our people and what they care about

  • Content curation: finding good “stuff” to then contextualize and share

Ask: why are we listening? Which reason takes priority? What comes second? How do those reasons tie into our greater goals and strategies?

From here, take the conversation home. Think about what you need to listen for, and why. And don’t take yourselves too seriously. Let the playfulness of the activity spill over into this discussion; know you can – and should – adjust how you listen.

Folks have a lot to say on social media and it’s up to us to listen. Let’s learn to listen well…and not get lost in the lyrics.

This is a guest post and awesome exercise from Miriam BrousseauBy day, Miriam is a social media strategist and coach, working in a joint position with The Jewish Education Project and Darim Online. By night she is half of the “biblegum pop” duo Stereo Sinai (the other half is her husband, producer Alan Jay Sufrin). She loves learning to be a mom to an awesome baby boy, devouring all things Alice in Wonderland, Star Trek (Next Generation, mostly), and Oscar Wilde, and dangling stuff in front of her cats. She tweets as @miriamjayne and blogs at mjbrosseau.tumblr.com and, more recently, at miriamswhiteboard.tumblr.com.

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

How to Promote Your YouTube Videos for Free

How to Promote Your YouTube Videos for Free

YouTube videos can be an important part of your social media marketing plans. However, creating high-quality, informative, entertaining videos isn’t enough. You’ll need reliable ways of getting the word out and securing the right kind of attention for your videos. Here are several free ways to promote your YouTube videos:

  • Use Your Blog: Your blog gets a study flow of customers, prospects, and curious visitors. Make it your first stop for promoting your YouTube videos. When you create a new video, be sure to promote the video on your blog by describing it, detailing the whats, whos, whens, and whys, and telling your audience members why they’ll definitely want to check it out. Then, make it easy for them to view your masterpiece. Embed it in its own post.
  • Share With Your List: Don’t expect the people on your email list to come to you for interesting, valuable content. You go ahead and take the content to them. Craft a relevant, helpful message and email it to your list along with a link to your video. If you have an email newsletter, be sure to include it there as well.
  • Create a Custom Channel: This can be the difference between having what looks like just a bunch of videos and having a series of credible, interesting, valuable videos people want to see and share. A custom channel lends your video collection credibility, makes it look more professional, and helps you to create a more cohesive message.
  • Apply Your Social Media Know-How: Share your videos via your social media accounts. For example, tweet about your video and include links, create a status update with a message about your latest YouTube video and embed the video, and pin your video to your pinboards. Take a look at each social media account and figure out where and how to share. Don’t forget to share your link on social bookmarking sites as well, adhering to the posting rules of those sites, of course.
  • Spread the News: When you create a newsworthy, or particularly helpful new video, look to news outlets that can help you spread the word about them. Write a press release and include the link to your video. Also, contact relevant news outlets about your video by phone or via email.


Of course , you can also pay to advertise your videos. If you have the budget to do so, consider the Google Adwords for Video opportunity. It’s a pay-per-click program for promoting videos on YouTube. With this program, you pay when someone views your ad rather than when you place it.

How are you promoting videos? We’d love to hear your ideas, or questions about video, in the comments.

How to Promote Your Youtube Videos for Free

5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest

5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest

5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest

Have a good handle on creating attractive, shareable pins and pinboards? Want to give your pins a boost and ensure that the right people find them? Here are 5 tips for using keywords to draw more attention to your pins and pinboards:

  1. Use keywords to describe your pins. When Pinterest users search for pins, you want them to find yours. You can dramatically improve the chances that this will happen by including relevant, carefully chosen keywords in your pin’s description. The right keywords can prove particularly important if your business has a local audience. In such a case, you will likely benefit from using the city, state, or county’s name in the description, coupled with a keyword. Such a keyphrase would look like this: Allentown Digital Signs.
  2. Pay attention to the file (photo) name. It won’t do you much good to give your pin files a generic name like image 1034. But if you’re selling specialty teas or gourmet chocolate’s, for example, you can improve the searchability of your pins just by including a well-targeted keyword in each one.
  3. Be exact. Let’s say a Pinterest user is searching for new baby gift baskets and your pins use the keyphrase baskets for a baby, gift baskets for a newborn, or new baby gifts. In such a case, your pins might not show up first in the Pinterest search. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use those keyphrases, as you might get traffic from them. However, if you definitely want to show up as a top result for a specific term, use the exact phrase.
  4. Include your carefully chosen keywords in other key areas. In addition to using keywords in your file names and descriptions, use them in your username, profile name, and pinboard title as well. Don’t forget to use them in your About description too. The About section of your page gives you 200 characters of space in which to share who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and why anyone should care. Keep this description simple and to the point, and use keywords in a way that sounds natural. Never give in to the temptation to keyword stuff.
  5. Don’t forget the hashtags. They’re helpful not only for keeping your pins organized but also for improving the chances that your audience will find your pins in a search. Use keywords to create your hashtags, of course.


Keep in mind that the above advice is intended for use with the Pinterest search engine. You may benefit from applying other strategies when you’re optimizing for Google or another search engine.

5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest (1)

Social Media and SEO Rankings

Social Media and SEO Rankings

Social Media and SEO Rankings

In the past, backlinks were a top focus for boosting SEO rankings. Your position in the search engines was highly dependent on the quality of your backlinks. Today, social media signals are critical to SEO rankings. In fact, according to a Searchmetrics study, 7 out of the top 8 factors that influence SEO ranking are social. This is encouraging if you’re putting time and effort into your social media accounts.

Here are some of the most important factors in SEO ranking, according to the Searchmetrics study:

  1. Google+1
  2. Facebook shares
  3. Backlinks
  4. Facebook total
  5. Facebook comments
  6. Facebook likes
  7. Pinterest
  8. Tweets

So what does this mean? Basically, it means that having more Google+1s, shares, likes, tweets and comments won’t just get you more attention on the social media platforms you use. Social media love can also translate into higher rankings in the search engines and more traffic to your URL. However, it is important to understand that likes, shares and plus ones aren’t all there is to high SEO rankings. Instead, these things are a major part of the overall picture.


The following are some of the other parts of the package:

  • Quality content: If you create good content, people will share it, comment on it, and link to it. Focus on creating the type of content you know your readers will want to share. Thinking compelling copy, eye-catching images, and captivating video.
  • On-page SEO: Make sure you get all the technical stuff right. Doing well with social doesn’t mean you can ignore this altogether. It’s still important to choose and include keywords on your page and in your title, create good tags, etc.
  • Analyze results: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that your efforts are working or guessing at which efforts are having the most positive effects. Instead, it’s important to analyze activity to see who is visiting your pages, where they are coming from, how long they are staying on your site, who is linking to you, etc. This information will give you insight into what you should do more and what is falling flat.
  • Be original. Duplicating content won’t get you very far with the search engines or your audience. Remember, you have to give people a reason to share and link to your content. If they are seeing your content all over the Internet, you’ve missed the mark.
  • Optimize your images and video content too. Use relevant titles, captions, descriptions and tags. Include carefully chosen keywords in a natural manner. Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs.

Social Media and SEO Rankings

How To Throw a Social Media Party

How To Throw a Social Media Party

How To Throw a Social Media Party

My friend Sree inspired me a while back to think about how to throw a social media themed party, so I’ve been gathering some pins and links about food, decor and activities. Maybe you can use some of these ideas at one of your work or play gatherings.

Social Media Party Food

Delicious food is an absolute must for any party, and a social media party must have delicious – and fun – food! This may be one of the most exciting parts of planning a social media party. For inspiration, I’ve created a Pinterest board with many of the following ideas:

  • Bake and decorate Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn icon cookies.
  • Prepare adorable Twitter cupcakes – bright blue and featuring the Twitter bird.
  • Like Peeps? They’re sugary marshmallow treats that come in bird form. Get a bunch of blue peeps to represent Twitter.
  • Make your main dessert a cake with an image of your social media avatar (many bakeries can translate a photo image into the frosting).
  • Serve square finger sandwiches painted to look like social media icons (use food paint).
  • Use color contrast to create food displays that have a social media theme. For example, spread blue M&M’s out on a tray, and then use light-colored M&M’s to form an F for Facebook or T for Twitter in the middle of the sea of blue.
  • Make up social media-themed cocktails: a blue Twitter-tini or a red Pinterest drink of some kind (I’m no mixologist – just add food coloring or grenadine, I guess!).
  • Not quite social media – but everyone will love this: Prepare Angry Bird deviled eggs!

Social Media Party Decorations

You’ll need theme decorations for your social media party. The right choices can make your party more festive and drive the social media focus home. Here are some ideas:

  • Download images from the social media sites you use and head to your local print shop. Have them printed into banners and posters.
  • Prinkl makes it easy to print your Instagram photos, either on your own printer or by taking them to a photo printer – hang them up for decorations or print them into little box versions for 3-D table decor.
  • Use Social Print Studio to print stickers of your Instagram photos, and use them to decorate invites, tableware, or to stick on your guests as they enter the party.
  • Create banners featuring interesting, funny, weird, or popular hashtags or tweets.
  • Decorate a wall with blown-up social media avatars of your friends/colleagues, or make a poster-sized collage out of them.
  • Have each guest RSVP with a photo of himself/herself and a short greeting, along with their social media handles. Use these to create banners and posters to hang about the room.
  • Create social media bunting flags, string them together, and hang them in the party room.

Activities & Icebreakers for Your Social Media Party

Icebreakers are a great way to get the networking started, which is what you want at a social media themed party. And even more importantly, they can be a whole lot of fun. Here are a few icebreakers and other activities.

  • What’s In a Screen Name (adapted from the “My Name Is” game): Each guest shares his or her screen name for the social media site of your choice and then makes a sentence using each of the letters in the screen name. Bonus points if the sentence is social media related.
  • Know Your Partner (adapted from The Know Thy Neighbor Game): Each guest pairs up with someone new and spends a few minutes talking to him or her. After the allotted time is up, each guest must introduce his or partner, sharing details about the partner, such as his or her name and screen name (for the social media site of your choice), a few of the partner’s likes and dislikes, and a hashtag that describes the partner.
  • Personality Tweets: Have each person write out a 140-character description of his or her personality. Time this activity to make it more difficult and give points for the descriptions that are the most detailed and funny.
  • Tweet Down the Line (adapted from Telephone Game): Form a long line and have the first person make up a tweet. Have each person whisper the tweet to the next person in line. See how much the tweet has changed by the time you get to the end of the line.

Have you ever thrown an social media party? If so, please tell us in the comments what you ate, how you decorated, and what you did at the party. I’d love to add your images to my Pinterest board, too!

How To Throw a Social Media Party

Getting Started With YouTube for Marketing

YouTube can be an effective platform for promoting your products and services in a creative way. Many people find watching a creative video much more interesting than reading simple text on a Get Started with YouTubepage. But success with YouTube marketing requires a solid plan. Start by answering the following questions:

Is your business right for marketing on YouTube?

Generally speaking, you can do well with YouTube marketing if you have a product or service you can video-tape and show off visually. For example, if you’ve created a product that solves a problem, you can show it at work. Likewise, if you provide a helpful service, you can show yourself in the act of providing the service. For example, if you clean carpets, you can create a video of you or your employees taking a section of carpet from filthy to pristine. Some services, such as consulting, can be difficult to show off this way. This doesn’t, however, mean you can’t do it. You’ll just need to be very creative to pull it off.

Do you want to educate, inform, or entertain?

YouTube is a good choice for each of these purposes, but it’s important to consider which one you can accomplish. Informational and educational videos can be the easiest to make. An informative video just provides details about your products, company, or related topics. Educational videos, on the other hand, typically provide insight into how something works or how to accomplish a task. Both educational and informative videos provide value for your audience, but they can seem dull and boring if not carefully planned and well-executed. You’ll need to put a lot of thought into their creation to keep your audience’s interest.

People tend to flock to entertaining videos, and if done well, they often go viral. Unfortunately, these videos can be hard to make. You need a great idea and equally spot-on execution. If you can make them work, however, they can do a lot for your business. Just make sure that the video you create shows off your business’ personal style and doesn’t detract from its image.

What is your goal?

Do you want to use YouTube to get new customers? Are you planning to use YouTube to provide support for the people who currently buy from you? You can use YouTube for both purposes. To attract new customers, you’ll need to create videos that make your prospects want to learn more about you and what you offer. Then, you can provide the link to your site in your video as well as in your video description. If you want to provide support to your current customers, you can create how-to videos and question-and-answer sessions that help your customers get more out of your offerings.

Use your answers to the above questions to start the planning process.

Getting Started with Youtube for Marketing

Help! My 9 Year Old Wants To Be On Instagram!

Help! My 9 Year Old Wants To Be On Instagram!

Help! My 9 Year Old Wants To Be On Instagram!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the “right” age for a child to be involved in social media? This is a question I get asked a lot, both as a practitioner of corporate social media and also as a co-founder of the Digital Family Summit.

Some might think there is an easy answer. Nearly all account-based websites, by necessity of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), provide terms of service which state that the minimum age for account holders is 13. As a parent, it might be easy to say to a kid, “the rules are 13, you can join when you’re 13, and that’s that.” But this answer is far too simplistic.

I know plenty of kids under the age of 13 who have benefitted greatly from creating and using social media. By the same token, I know of or have heard of many kids who are 13 and over who have been miserable using social media, or who have had serious social and mental issues related to their use of social media.

Please note that I am not advocating that you allow your under-13 children to sign up for social media accounts. I am not. However, I’m a realist in that I know it happens every day, and I’d like to provide at least a little bit of guidance as to how kids, of any age, can engage in social media appropriately. In my mind, that guidance begins with parents understanding the issues at hand.

Encouraging Content Creators

Digital content creation can be a tremendous creative pursuit for kids. I think the ability for a kid to express themselves through writing, photography or video should be encouraged, and if engaging in social media makes those creative expressions more appealing to kids, I’m all for it. But that’s where the slippery slope of what’s appropriate begins.

Not all social media is created equal, especially when it comes to kids’ use of various platforms. I think social media for kids breaks down into two primary categories:

1) Personal platforms: Blog, YouTube, Flickr
2) Networked platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest (and others)

Let’s consider the benefits and pitfalls of each of these categories for kids – and their parents.

Personal Social Media Platforms

Personal social media platforms are those that can be kept fairly individualized; there’s no need to “network” in order to make them valuable to a tween or teen who wants to get online.

For all of these platforms, it’s possible to have a private presence, where you can restrict access only to people you approve. Parents can control who a kid is allowed to invite – family, close family friends, and potentially very close friends of their children.

Here are some helpful links detailing privacy settings for personal platforms:

WordPress (blog) Privacy; I also recommend disabling comments on posts 
YouTube Privacy
Flickr Privacy

For each of these platforms, it’s possible to set up accounts, provide access only to a few people, and then allow kids to have a lot of flexibility as to what they post and when. Of course, parents still must monitor the content that goes into these platforms, and should have access to the account via the kid’s password (see below).

Though you could subscribe to someone’s YouTube channel or add them as a contact on Flickr, it’s entirely possible to only broadcast using these channels, vs. consuming others’ content and following other people or streams. Vigilant parents can ensure that kids aren’t adding subscriptions or contacts to their accounts, keeping these platforms a one-way (outbound only) street. Kids get to build an audience and show off their work, and parents can worry a little bit less about who they’re following or what content they’re consuming.

Networked Social Media Platforms

The “Big 4” networked social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, are really only interesting (to anyone, not just kids) if the account is networked with others – they follow people and people follow them back. On Facebook, this is always a mutual thing: you must follow everyone who follows you on Facebook. On the other three platforms, you could follow anyone and anyone could follow you, with no need for mutual approvals.

Given the social nature of these platforms, it’s vitally important for parents to understand and help set up appropriate privacy settings for their kids accounts.

Twitter and Instagram both offer “private” feeds, whereby you must approve everyone who requests to follow your account. Instructions on setting up these types of accounts are found here:
Twitter Protected Tweets
Instagram Private Photos

Facebook has very strong privacy settings to control who outside a person’s friends can see and interact with their posts and profile. However, by its very nature (because friending must be reciprocal), Facebook cannot be wholly private or by invite only. Therefore, the most important thing for parents to think about on Facebook is setting up very clear guidelines on who kids are allowed to friend.

Pinterest does not really offer a private setting; however, there are secret boards, so you could set up an account and then only use secret boards, granting access to close friends and family only. This might get a bit tedious, though, so be conscious that Pinterest may be a bit harder to police.

The One Social Media for Kids Rule

I’ve read a lot and heard a lot of “rules” that parents have set up for their kids in social media. I suggest only one real rule, and it’s actually for parents:

Parents must be closely, intimately, involved with their kids social media use.

I know you don’t want to hear this: If you aren’t prepared to be engaged in your kids social media accounts daily or a few days a week, minimum, then you probably should not allow them to be on social media at all, regardless of their age.

If you acquiesce to your kid’s desire to be on social media (particularly if they’re under age 13, but even after that), but then you don’t police their use, I really don’t know what to say to you. Would you allow your under-13s to stay overnight by themselves? Do you let them wander through your city alone? Letting them participate in social media unsupervised is the same, or even worse: you have no idea what they’re going to see, hear or become a party to.

General Social Media Guidelines

I do have some suggested social media guidelines for kids and parents (assuming they agree to the above rule). This is just a starting point; I recommend that you create your own expectations for how your kids use social media, discuss them with your kids, and then adhere to them very strictly.

  1. Be sure you have your child’s passwords – if they change them, their account is taken away, no second chances.
  2. Help them set up their privacy settings so that only their friends/followers can see their stuff:
    • WordPress, YouTube, Flickr: By invite only
    • Instagram: Private Photos
    • Twitter: Protected Tweets
    • Facebook: No non-friends can see their stuff
  3. Make sure they never turn location services on. Ever. If they do (which you’ll know if any of their posts are tagged with locations) – back to the first bullet – account taken away, no second chance. This protects their physical privacy and helps prevent stalking and bullying.
  4. Log in to their account(s) on your phone or laptop as them occasionally – so you’re seeing everything they’re seeing as them, including, most importantly, the messages they’re receiving (which you won’t see if you’re if you’re only following them). Make sure they know you’ll be doing this and then follow through on it by doing it regularly – set a calendar reminder to do it once or twice a week at minimum.
  5. Set the expectation that your kid can’t allow as a follower or friend anyone that you (their parents) don’t know personally. This means they can’t friend or follow anyone that they don’t know in real life, which in most cases also means no friends of friends, and definitely no one they only know online.

You could add many other layers on top of this: how much time kids can spend on social media, which devices they can use, whether they’re allowed to use social media (and/or their laptop and mobile devices) in their own rooms or if they have to be in a public area of the house….I could go on and on.

The most important aspect of any rules or restrictions is regular, ongoing parental involvement in their kids social media. The rest are details.

I know there are many, many opinions on this and I’m eager to hear yours. Please post in the comments if you’re struggling with this, have had a good or bad experience with your kids and social media, or if you have tools or guidelines to recommend.

Image source: Digital Family Summit

 

4 Sought-After Instagram Influencers

4 Sought-After Instagram Influencers

4 Sought-After Instagram Influencers

Reaching out to respected influencers on any social media platform is a good way to build awareness and credibility for your brand. Many major brands have discovered the benefits of developing relationships with Instagram influentials; these top photogs have the creativity to produce appealing photographs for their brand clients. And bonus: their high follower counts may help you boost your Instagram followers, too, when they show off their work for your brand to their audience.

Here are four Instagram influencers who are among the most sought-after by well-known brands.

1. Brian DiFeo @bridif

@bridif instagram influencer working with brands

This Instagrammer is a co-founder of The Mobile Media Lab, a creative agency focused on Instagram marketing. Boasting nearly 130,000 followers, DiFeo started out with Instagram in 2010, not long after the photo-sharing site was launched.

In 2011, he offered to take over the Newport Folk Festival’s Instagram account, asking only for backstage passes in return. Since then, he has had his hand in everything from fashion show photographs to Instagram campaigns for the likes of Honda, Armani Exchange and Evian.

2. Anthony Danielle @takinyerphoto

@takinyerphoto - Instagram influencer working with brands

Danielle, also a co-founder of The Mobile Media Lab, joined Instagram soon after its launch as well. But just eight months after opening his account, during which he slowly gained followers, he earned the status of suggested user. Danielle has been named one of “15 Stylish People to Follow on Instagram.”

Danielle is known for taking candid photographs of New Yorkers, but in late 2011, brands began seeking Danielle’s help, and Puma flew him to the Volvo Ocean Race in Abu Dhabi. He has also completed projects for Evian, Armani Exchange, Delta, and Michael Kors. He has more than 190,000 followers.

3. Bex Finch @bexfinch

@bexfinch instagram influencer who works with brands

Freelance photographer and sought-after Instagrammer Finch got started with Instagram in December 2010. She created the widely-known hashtag #fromwhereistand, which is associated with looking at life from while looking down at feet (hers and others’). Since building a following on Instagram, she’s toured with the band Grizzly Bear, traveling to countries like Denmark, France, and Germany. She’s also photographed the band Bon Iver and traveled to Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice. Thanks to her Instagram presence, which includes nearly 200,000 followers, she’s also been offered editorial jobs in California and had the opportunity to wield her camera on other international trips.

4. Steph Goralnick @sgoralnick

@sgoralnick instagram influencer working with brands

Goralnick expresses her creative calling as both a freelance photographer and a graphic designer. Like many of the top influencers on Instagram, she joined in October 2010. Goralnick primarily uses her account, which has more than 350,000 followers, to document her life and share photographs she finds interesting or beautiful. She also enjoys traveling and taking photographs during her adventures and explorations.

Delta took notice of her penchant for sharing great photographs and her interest in traveling, inviting her on one of its trips in an effort to promote its non-stop flights from New York to Los Angeles, providing such perks as good food, wine, entertainment, and accommodations at a Beverly Hills Hotel. Goralnick has also worked with such brands as TheDaily and Evian.

Working with outside creative professionals can benefit many social media and content marketing efforts, from Instagram to YouTube to your blog. Have you worked with creative influencers in your marketing? Please share your experiences in the comments.

 

Increasing Your Likability Via Social Media

While many use social media for marketing, it also has the potential to help in other ways. One of the most important is Increasing Your Likability Via Social Mediaimproving likability. Though likability is a simple thing, it can have a huge influence on sales. People want to do business with companies with good reputations, and taking that one step further, they want to do business with other people. And since no one is eager to do business with people they don’t know or individuals they don’t like, likability can be a huge part of sales potential in small business.

 

 

Anyone can post on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites on behalf of his or her business, but many struggle to turn their activity into increased sales. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that many focus too much on marketing or even outright selling and too little on being likable. This is a huge mistake, as social media is an excellent platform for building a reputation. Traditional advertising often falls short in this area, but social media is excellent for showing others what you are made of. With social media, you can take a personal approach, getting people interested in you as an individual, and by extension, in your company.

It is surprisingly easy to use social media to boost your likability. Here are a few tips for getting others to like you:

  • Be Interesting: People are busy and there is more than enough content on the Internet to keep them occupied for a life time. Why should they take an interest in you? The answer is because what you post is interesting. You take the time to learn what interests your audience, and then you tailor your content to your audience members’ interests. Also, you avoid beating the same old dead drum everyone else does.
  • Reciprocate: So your followers share, like, and comment on your posts? Be sure to do the same for them. This shows that you are interested in them as well. And let’s face it, one-way relationships just don’t work, even if they are online relationships.
  • Be Present: How can anyone like you if you aren’t around much? One of the most important rules of social media is to use it regularly. Let your audience get used to having you around and seeing your content.
  • Help Others: No one wants to be subjected to constant sales pitches, so keep the self-promotion to a minimum. Instead, focus on engaging with others and building relationships. Don’t worry, the sales will come.

Keep in mind that boosting your likability isn’t really about getting more likes for your Facebook page or adding more followers to your list. Instead, it’s about stimulating the kind of warm and fuzzy feelings that encourage others to choose you over the competition.

 

Is Your CEO Fluent in Social?

Is Your CEO Fluent in Social?

Is Your CEO Fluent in Social?

My four-and-a-half year old is learning the finer points of the English language. Like the fact that the plural of “mouse” is “mice,” not “mouses” or “mices.” Until I started teaching him these kinds of English nuances, I’d forgotten how hard it is to learn a language from scratch.

This got me thinking about how we’ve all learned social media. For my son’s generation up through the current crop of college kids, social media is part of the fabric of their existence. They don’t give any thought to the concepts of short-form text content, sharing video, or checking in to a location. But for most of us, most likely including you, we’ve learned social media the hard way: as if it were a foreign language we have to learn from the ground up.

 

 

Different Kinds of C-Levels

Startup CEOs are particularly good with social media; people who are entrepreneurs seem to embrace learning, reinvention and being unafraid of failure. Startup execs like Darmesh Shah and Carrie Kerpen have been out of college since before social media emerged, but along the way they’ve managed to embrace social media and make it a core part of their executive being.

However, most CEOs and C-level executives aren’t there yet. We give special credit to the few who have embraced social media: look, another short list of CEOs who tweet. It’s as if we’ve just spotted a violin prodigy or some kid who speaks seven languages.

How To Learn a New Language

For some C-level execs, they’re learning social the hard way. Brian Kardon, CMO at Lattice Engines, learned from reading, asking tons of questions, and simply jumping in and doing it. However, for every Brian Kardon, there are tons of old-school C-levels who will never get it, either because they don’t think it’s important or because they simply can’t learn anything new at this stage.

So what happens if your CEO thinks he or she doesn’t have the “language learning” gene for social media?

CEOs who embrace social media are more trusted

Given that 82% of consumers say that they trust a company more if its executives are engaged in social media, it’s definitely time for many more of them to hit the books. Or perhaps it’s time for an early retirement.

Image: flickr (calsidyrose)

Is Your CEO Fluent in Social_

A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

Co-Authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Planning a social media contest? Pinterest tops the list of the best platforms on which to run contests and promotions. Why?

It’s pretty laid-back on the rules and easy to use, offering loads of room for creativity. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for making your Pinterest contest a success:

  1. Follow the Rules: Like all social media networks, Pinterest has rules. Compared to other platforms, however, Pinterest is pretty easy-going. Learning the rules and following them is one of the most important steps in running a successful Pinterest contest.
  2. Keep It Simple: In general, the less well known your brand and the less valuable the prize you offer, the less complicated you need to make your contest requirements. After all, who wants to spend valuable time deciphering a long list of requirements for a brand he or she has never heard of. However, keeping it simple is ALWAYS a good idea, no matter how attractive the prize. Try to create just a few entry steps and make sure your instructions are clear (at a glance) and easy to follow.
  3. Make It Fun: The people who enter your Pinterest contest will be well aware of all the competition. So they’ll likely feel more excited about entering and taking the time to follow the required steps if you make the contest match their interests. For example, if your target audience is into decorating, have participants create pins of dream rooms or items they want for their dream homes. They’ll enjoy the virtual window shopping and have more of an interest in entering your contest.
  4. Get the Most out of It: Set goals for your your Pinterest contest. For example, you might want to use your contest to help increase your fan base, or your primary goals may include collecting information about your fans. Then, make sure your contest requirements will help you achieve your goals. If, for instance, your goal is to collect information about your fans, you can require participants to sign up for the contest (and a login) on your site. This way, you can collect the information you need each time someone chooses to enter. If it’s fans that you want, require all participants (both entrants and voters) to follow your brand on Pinterest.
  5. Make It Worth Their While: Of course, not every brand has the major bucks to shell out for a very extravagant prize, such as a car or a vacation. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t offer an attractive prize. Think long and hard about your audience members and what they want/need, and then provide a high-value prize that suits your audience yet fits within your budget. Gift certificates for online shopping and high-value items from your site are always good ideas.
  6. Track Your Results: Keep track of your results throughout the contest period. Set up a spreadsheet to keep track of each goal on your list and update the spreadsheet each week with your progress. For instance, if you want to drive traffic to a page on your site, update your spreadsheet with your referral traffic numbers.

 

 

3 Examples of Consumer Brand Contests on Pinterest

Here are three examples of great consumer-oriented Pinterest contests to get your creative wheels turning.

Country Living

country-living-pinterest-resized-600

The shelter magazine created its Dream Bedroom Contest, which offered participants the chance to win a $500 Garnet Hill bedding set. To enter, each participant had to follow Country Living on Pinterest and create a My Country Living Dream Bedroom pinboard. Each pinboard had to include 10 pins illustrating the participant’s dream bedroom, and at least 5 of the pins had to come from CountryLiving.com. Each pin included the #countryliving and #dreambedroom hashtags, and participants had to submit their boards for entry by commenting on the contest pin with a link to their dream bedroom boards.

This contest encouraged participants to have fun creating pinboards that showed off the objects of their desire and only required them to include minimal images from Country Living. The inclusion of the hashtags ensured more exposure for the brand.

Nieman Marcus

nieman-marcus-art-of-fashion-pinterest-resized-600

Nieman Marcus is currently running a Pinterest contest called The Art of Fashion. They’re asking participants to create a new board, pin their cover image, and pin any six looks from their Art of Fashion collection. They seem to be getting a number of repins already, though the contest goes through until nearly the end of the month.

The advantage to this campaign is that it is pretty low-involvement for the user – but given that Nieman Marcus is providing beautiful images to repin, it’s very likely that once repinned, those images will spread. And they all lead back to NiemanMarcus.com, naturally.

Another thing I really like about this contest is that the entry is via a form on the NeimanMarcus.com website – a layer of formality that I’m sure their attorneys appreciate (and perhaps insisted on) to make sure they’re getting all their terms and conditions met.

ModCloth

modcloth-wedding-pinterest-resized-600-2

The Something ModCloth, Something You Pinterest contest asked participants to help inspire ModCloth’s 2012 spring wedding campaign and have the chance to win a $100 gift certificate. To enter, participants had to follow ModCloth on Pinterest and then create a pinboard with the title “Spring ModCloth Wedding.” Each pinboard entry had to include 20 pins that fit provided categories, such as Something Vintage, A Lovely Location, and Makeup or Nails, also  incorporating the #modcloth and #wedding hashtags. ModCloth created a wedding contest pin on their “To Have and to Hold” wedding pinboard and asked entrants to enter the contest by posting comments and links to their pinboards there. 

This contest, which generated thousands of pins, was well-suited to ModCloth’s audience, allowing audience members to enjoy a wedding-planning activity while also getting the chance to win. Since every pin created for the contest had a ModCloth and a wedding hashtag, the brand showed up in search after search performed by its target market.

Have you seen or entered any creative, effective Pinterest contests lately? What made them stand out for you?

A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

Social Media Spring Cleaning

Social Media Spring Cleaning

Social Media Spring Cleaning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring is fast approaching, and you may have plans for spring cleaning in mind. Don’t limit the spring cleanup, clear out, and reorganize to your home, however. A brand-new season is a good time to make a fresh start with your social media accounts as well. Get rid of all that old information and web clutter, add new contacts, and post some fresh content! Here are 5 social media spring cleaning ideas to help you get better organized, become more efficient, and engage with your audience:

Out With the Old

Trash old emails, direct messages, and other contacts that no longer have a use. Received a bunch of spam? Get rid of that too! If you’ve been saving messages with the plan of using the information within them later, stop procrastinating and either use the information now or store the information in its proper place, such as a relevant folder or your Contacts list.

In With the New

Do you have contacts in your inbox that you have yet to enter or save in the appropriate folders? Now is the time to get this done. Then, sort through all those business cards you’ve collected and make sure you’ve added each person to your lists/folders. What good are contacts if you never reach out to them? Check the comments on your blog and social media pages for contacts to add as well.

Clean up Your Information

You’re sure to have some outdated or incorrect information in your profile and on your pages. Now is the time to delete it and add up-to-date, valuable information in its place. Maybe your company has experienced a change in key employees, added new products or services, or accomplished important goals. Make sure your profile and pages include all that you want to share.

Make Sure It Works

Check your links, videos, and audio clips to make sure everything works as it should. If a prospect wants to click through to another page or check out your content, the last thing you want are broken links or videos that won’t load. Such issues are big turn-offs for prospective customers.

Roll out the Fresh Content

Research new topic ideas and get on a regular posting schedule. This is especially important if you’ve slacked off on posting lately. Include some posts that provide company news or update your audience on your products or services. Provide helpful how-to’s, write posts that answer frequently asked questions, and upload attention-grabbing photos and videos. If you focus on a particular topic much of the time, shake things up with a new angle!

What have you been putting off for far too long? Add it to your social media spring cleaning list!

3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

As far as image-driven social sites go, Instagram has proven its value for sharing fresh, creative content. Far from being merely pretty, Instagram provides brands with the chance to engage markets visually, establish an emotional connection, and increase their followers. However, B2B brands often overlook Instagram, believing it’s better for fashion, news and travel companies.

 

 

Some of the other reasons B2B marketers often don’t even consider Instagram is because they don’t feel they have enough visual content. Christopher Penn has a great visual marketing exercise to make even those of us who feel we can’t think visually feel more compentent, and we’ve rounded up some of our best visual content tips on our blog.

So now that you have no excuses, consider how you can use Instagram. Some of the ways B2B brands use Instagram include:

  • Telling your company’s story visually
  • Introducing your staff
  • Allowing your audience behind the scenes
  • Fostering local connections through geo-tagging
  • Applying hashtags for branding and search benefits
  • Liking and commenting to interact with other brands

I think it’s always helpful to see examples of B2B companies using social media in action. Here are three B2B Instagram presences to inspire you: Intel, General Electric, and Maerskline.

Intel Instagram for B2B

Intel uses Instagram to capture its audience’s attention and tell its unique story. The company serves both businesses and consumers and manages to engage both with photos that showcase its products in fun and interesting ways. This brand shares everything from behind-the-scenes-photos to inspirational messages and artistic photos of its products with landmarks in the background.

GE Instagram for B2B

Like Intel, General Electric shares its story via Instagram. The company gives its audience a look at everything from its hard-at-work engineers to its products and services. There’s a definite wow factor at work here, as GE shows off technology that can only be described as larger than life. GE also marks special occasions, such as National Inventors’ Day, runs photo contests, and shares images submitted by contest winners via its Instagram account.

MaerskLine Instagram for B2B

Maerskline uses its Instagram presence to showcase its containers and vessels, give viewers an inside look at events, and introduce audience members to its staff. The global shipping company effectively uses photography techniques, including the use of lighting and angles to create images that are powerful and appealing. Additionally, Maerskline mixes images from its past with current photos, creating a visual story that shows where it has been, where it is now, and where it is going.

Instagram can be a great platform for engaging customers and building brand awareness. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will benefit your business. Before you invest your time, determine whether your audience uses Instagram and is likely to engage with your business there. If so, it’s time to develop a solid strategy for taking advantage of this site.

 
3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

Does Facebook for B2B Really Work

Is Facebook Right for Your B2B Brand?

Facebook for B2B Brands

If you read my recent post on Social Media Explorer, you know that I’m not really a fan of Facebook for B2B (business-to-business) businesses. That’s because Facebook is generally a personal domain. People may be willing to connect to brands which intersect with or enhance their personal lives, but I’ve seen resistance amongst Facebookers when faced with messaging from a B2B brand (clearly targeted at their business lives). Read more

Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

 

Success in business requires a willingness to evaluate the steps you have taken and make
changes when and where necessary to meet your goals. And if you’ve been focusing your social media strategies on ads alone, now is the perfect time to reconsider and make a change. Why is a change in order? It’s simple: Today’s consumers are making more of their buying decisions based on the recommendations of their peers. To get more of their dollars, you have to make it onto and stay on their social-sharing radars.

According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages Report, the majority of consumers consider recommendations from their peers far more worthy of attention and trust than any form of advertising, including social ads. In fact, more than 90 percent of the consumers polled said they have more faith in earned media, which includes social media recommendations, than other advertising options.

This means your business has much to gain from encouraging consumers to discuss your company and its products and services via social media. Each positive review and recommendation you receive may translate into sales. And the hope is that this will create a cycle in which you get a new customer because of a social media recommendation, provide top-notch service/high-quality products to that new customer, and then get another glowing recommendation–this time from your newest customer.

Some consumers will go ahead and make social media recommendations without any encouragement. These are often the super-social customers who love to share almost everything online. For these people, sharing details about companies, products, and services is just second nature. Others may need a bit of a nudge. Here’s what you can do:

    1. Ask! Don’t assume that your customers will think to provide a recommendation, even if they are 100-percent pleased with their purchases. Sometimes you have to plant the seed by asking them to share their positive experiences with their social media network.
    2. Discover where your customers spend their time online and make sure you have a presence there. If you’re visible on the social media networks your customers use, they will find it much easier to share information about your company.

  1. Reach out to consumers who recommend you. Thank them for their business and their recommendations. This type of interaction may not only encourage prospects to pay attention to you but might also stimulate other happy customers to recommend you.
  2. Offer great deals. Even those who are slow to write product and service recommendations want to share sweet deals with their friends. And when they share your deal, they’ll also tell their friends that they’ve not only used your products and services but also been pleased with them.
  3. Provide shareable content that helps you stay visible and on the minds of your customers. This way, you give them many chances to think about you, share your content, and recommend you to others. Essentially, you want to give them something to talk about.

Have you had sales success with social media ads? How do you reach out to customers for recommendations?

Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

Using Social Media for Customer Service

Using Social Media for Customer Service

Using Social Media for Customer Service

Social media is a viable avenue for providing customer service to your customers. As more and more consumers embrace social media
for personal use, they are also reaching out to companies this way. Some brands listen and respond better than others, and these are the brands that enjoy increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. In most industries, consumers have a good deal of choice when it comes choosing where to spend their money, so encouraging loyalty is an important goal.

Customer service isn’t an either or proposition, so you don’t have to choose social media customer service over traditional methods.  In fact, you shouldn’t choose one over the other at all. Social media is up and coming in the customer service realm, and it’s likely that more consumers will take advantage of it as time passes. However, the majority of consumers may still have a preference for traditional methods and will quickly become annoyed if they want to speak to a brand representative by phone but discover that you’re only available via Facebook.

Here are some statistics to consider:

According to survey data provided by Avaya:

  • 84 percent of those polled choose to interact with companies via telephone.
  • 80 percent of the consumers polled interact with companies via email.
  • 64 percent engage in face-to-face interaction.
  • 16 percent interact with companies via social media platforms.
  • 60 percent of consumers will change how they contact/interact with a company based on what they’re doing and their current location.
  • 43 percent of consumers would rather contact a company online for most issues and save the telephone contact for complicated questions/issues.

Remember that using social media for customer service doesn’t just influence your relationship with your current customers. It also influences how prospects see you. Potential customers take note of how well you handle customer service issues by observing your online responses, or they hear about your responses from online friends. They then develop an impression of you that helps them decide that your business is the right one to patronize.


As you move forward with using social media for customer service, always keep in mind that monitoring is critical. Monitoring interactions and responses is not only important for determining what you’re doing right and where you can improve but also for getting a heads up about problems before they get out of hand. With effective monitoring, you can note customer issues and complaints and respond to them effectively before they become full-scale crises that damage your business reputation.

Are you using social media for customer service? What successes have you experienced? Have you hit any stumbling blocks?

Using Social Media for Customer Service

What's Wrong With Your Customer Service?

What’s Wrong With Your Customer Service?

What's Wrong With Your Customer Service?

Poor customer service is among the primary complaints customers have when dealing with
companies of all sizes. And it’s far from just an annoyance. Some customers will stop patronizing a company completely after a poor customer service experience. Wondering what’s most likely to go wrong? Here are 5 of the main things likely to go wrong with your customer service:

  1. Customers cannot reach a live person when they’re in need of help. Undoubtedly, automated phone systems make routing calls and sharing information easier, but customers tend to hate them when they feel the need for human help. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports survey, more than 70 percent of respondents feel very annoyed when they cannot reach an actual person.
  2. Your customer service reps lack customer service skills. You really want your most conscientious and personable people in this position. You’ll lose customers quickly if your reps sound bored, disinterested, or uniformed. Even worse is the rude customer service rep, and these days, it seems many companies have them on board.
  3. Your customer service staff lacks training. When customers contact your company, they expect to reach someone who can help them with their issues, who understands what they are talking about, and who has the authority to make decisions or take action. Customers become frustrated when they must wait long periods of time for customer service reps to figure things out (often by going to other company employees for the information they should have readily at hand) or worse, provide incorrect information. Then there is the customer service rep who makes promises he can’t keep. When the customer attempts to follow up, he’s told the original rep was wrong or the solution originally provided is against company policy.
  4. Your reps don’t fully understand your products or services. No matter how personable and efficient a customer service rep may seem, he won’t do your business justice if he doesn’t understand your products and services and how they are supposed to work. Before communicating with customers, your rep should be well trained and understand how your offerings work and what might go wrong with them. Only then can he or she  provide your customers with reliable help.
  5. You don’t track and monitor customer service contact. How can you hope to improve your services and keep your customers satisfied if you have no idea why they’re contacting you, what type of help they need, which solutions your reps have provided, and how content your customers were with the results of their contact. You need a system in place for monitoring customer service contact and results, so you can evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s reps and policies and make changes when necessary.


What steps are you taking to improve your company’s customer service in 2013? Share with us!

What_s Wrong with Your Customer Service

What's So Special About Twitter?

What’s So Special About Twitter?

What's So Special About Twitter?

 

We all know that Twitter is a household name when it comes to social media, but just why is it so special? What makes this social media platform the success it is? I’m a huge, and therefore hugely biased, user and supporter of Twitter, and there are over 200 million other active users.

These are just a few of the ways that Twitter differs from other social platforms and why I think it’s poised for ongoing success.

Twitter As an Everyday News Source

Twitter is quickly becoming an important source of information about events as they happen around the world. Many political analysts have attributed the spread of the Arab Spring to Twitter.  And according to Outside the Beltway, the news of Osama bin Laden’s death hit Twitter before newscasters shared it, coming a full hour before the President addressed the nation.

Some people may even use Twitter as their main source for certain news stories. Tweets about Hurricane Sandy were the lifeline for many, rather than (or in addition to) tuning in to traditional news sources. Perhaps this is because the short chains of information (limited-character tweets) fly so fast and furious that users feel able to keep up with the news as it happens, without really having to break their own strides.

“News,” of course, can include mainstream news as well as news about a local area, a particular business, a group of interest, and even news of friends and family members.

One problem with Twitter as news source is that there are many Twitter-shared hoaxes and much spreading of incorrect information. Still, this issue is not unique to Twitter and is unlikely to cause it to lose any popularity contests when compared with other social media platforms.

Worldwide Leaders Use Twitter

pope benedict pontifex twitter resized 600

Leaders from around the world apparently recognize Twitter as a worthwhile platform. According to DigitalDaya, three fourths of leaders from around the world have a Twitter presence and use it to communicate with their citizens. Based on December 2012 data, 123 world leaders had Twitter accounts – out of 164 countries. Even the Pope now tweets, in 9 languages including Latin. Clearly, Twitter is the mainstream and not solely the mundane.

Twitter for Online Events

Twitter isn’t just about news, however. Like other social media platforms, Twitter is all about engagement and connections. Marketers can take that a step further by creating and participating in Twitter parties. Essentially, a Twitter party is an online event, centered around a particular topic or company, that allows people to virtually gather and discuss a particular subject. To participate, Twitter users tweet using the Twitter party’s hashtag. That hashtag is all that is needed for users to follow the conversation and jump in to actively participate. Brands often use Twitter parties as a way to boost interest in their products and services, increase engagement, and gain followers.

 

 

Twitter chats are similar to Twitter parties, except the conversation focuses on a topic of interest that isn’t necessarily associated with a brand. Twitter parties are more likely to be focused on a brand’s promotional interests. However, some businesses do sponsor Twitter chats, getting some exposure for their business while keeping the conversations to more general topics.

But Will Twitter Make Money?

Of course, what investors want to see is that Twitter will make money. Valued at around $11 billion, Twitter is going to have a huge IPO, maybe as soon as the beginning of 2014. The platform demonstrates plenty of potential, showing user growth, making changes (such as to its photo app) to remain competitive, and adjusting its promoted tweets to draw more clicks. Some other tech companies have had less-than-stellar initial public performances, but some experts speculate that Twitter may just have the right things going for it to excite investors.

How do you think Twitter stands out among other social media platforms? What makes it so different and special?

 

What's So Special About Twitter_

Who Owns the Blogger Relationship?

Who Owns the Blogger Relationship?

Who Owns the Blogger Relationship?

I’ve been asked this question a few times recently: In an agency, when one does blogger outreach or creates blogger programs, who owns the blogger relationship? The person establishing the relationship, the agency, or the client/brand?

For me, I feel the right answer is the person establishing the relationship – and in the case of our agency, me, or one of my colleagues. Though I reach out to bloggers for the benefit of my client, it is my job (or the job of someone on my team) to find the right bloggers, stimulate their interest, negotiate the details of the agency/blogger relationship, and ensure that all goes as planned for all of the parties involved. In many cases, the client and the blogger have minimal contact with each other, as we manage all of the details. As such, we as individuals, rather than the agency or client, own the blogger relationship.

Since each of us owns our own relationships, it falls to us to make sure each blog we select for a client program will fit our client’s needs. One of my primary recommendations for anyone who’s looking to work with bloggers is to get involved with bloggers well in advance of needing to work with them. This can involve commenting on posts in a meaningful way, sharing and reposting information, sharing tips, promoting the blogger’s posts, and sending a friendly email introducing yourself in a low-key (rather than aggressive and salesy) manner. Your contact should illustrate your knowledge of the blog’s subject matter and your genuine interest in it. Connect not only via the blog but also via the blogger’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Then when the time comes to engage with the blogger, you, as the owner of the blogger relationship, are already known to the blogger, and can make a more credible introduction to your client or project. And because you will work with more than one client, it makes sense to develop connections that focus not on a particular client but instead on your niche. Build your reputation and expand your blogger rolodex based on this niche, your philosophies, your great personality, and your way of working with bloggers. This means you will have a network (one you will have to continually nourish and build) of bloggers to reach out to when the need arises.

When you think about the multiple touchpoints you’ll need to have with a blogger even before you try to get them involved in your client’s project, you quickly realize why the blogger relationship belongs to you, the individual, not the agency or client.  Any client (or boss) who tells you otherwise likely doesn’t understand what it means to build true relationships with bloggers.

 

 

Image source: Flickr (aidan_jones)

 

Who Owns the Blogger Relationship_

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

As a social media consultant, I get asked this question all the time: Which social media platform should I use for my business. And my answer is always the same: It depends.

Of course, there are many variables to consider when determining your marketing strategy, and your use of social media platform(s) should be part of that strategy.  And your personal preferences, or available resources, must be part of the decision making process. If you hate yourself on video, YouTube may not be your first or best choice of social channels for your business.  If you don’t have a smartphone, Instagram won’t work for you.

But ultimately, for most businesses, I think there’s actually another question which will help you to answer the platforms question. It’s whether you want to own a farm or fish in a river.

Here’s how I see it:

Your own blog, website and email list are like your farm, and social media is like a river where anyone can go and fish.

Your Farm

When you own a farm, you get to choose everything: what to plant, when to harvest, whether to let it lay fallow.  You own it, and any time and effort you put into it is for your benefit alone.

When you create a blog on your own website (side note: your blog should never, ever be located at blogspot.com or wordpress.com – it should always be somewhere on your company website), you are farming your fields. You are adding value to your website in the form of search engine-friendly content, creating links back to your site when people link to your blog posts, and providing content to your customers and potential customers which may help them build their relationship with you.

The same goes for your email list (which you should start building today, if you don’t already have one), and your website in general. These are things you own. No one can take them away from you. If you later choose to stop farming (stop blogging, stop collecting, email names), that’s up to you.

The River

Social media is a fishing river, and you never know what’s going to happen to that stream. There may be vast amounts of fish one day (or year) and you could see huge benefits from it because you can get fish (customers) you may have never otherwise attracted to your farm (business/brand/cause).  But you’ll never own the river, and so you should never put all of your resources into fishing, to the detriment of your time farming.

Consider how quickly MySpace went away – the stream dried up, and all the money and time brands put into MySpace was lost, forever. The same could happen tomorrow to Facebook or Twitter. Sure, it’s not likely, but it could happen. Or brand pages could just fall out of favor with consumers. Or some other platform will be shinier and newer. The point is – none of these platforms are yours.

You Need Both for a Balanced Presence

Doing both farming and fishing (your own content/properties + social), however, gives you a balanced pantry as well as a balanced business…. and the combination of the two can be very powerful.

I always advocate that small companies and non-profits start their social efforts by creating and writing a blog. It’s rarely what they want to hear – they want to hear that Twitter will be a huge channel and all they have to do is open an account – but blogging is really the best place to start.  And once they have a blog, then they have original content to use in social channels, if they choose: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  Unfortunately, if they have no interest in blogging, they just won’t do it, and so Facebook or YouTube or something else may be more appealing and more valuable for them. I get that. I just think it’s a short sighted view.

So in my mind, the question a business should ask isn’t whether to choose Facebook over Twitter, or if Instagram is important. The first question to ask yourself is whether you’ve built and tended your farm.

Image source: Flickr (State Records NSW)

 
Business Social Media_ Farming vs. Fishing

Dead Social Networks: Lessons For All Marketers

Dead Social Networks: Lessons For All Marketers

Dead Social Networks: Lessons For All Marketers

Some social networks thrive and grow far beyond expectations while others start off with a big bang but go out with a whimper. Why? What is the difference between successful networks like Facebook and Twitter and those we’ve left behind, such as MySpace, Friendster and Second Life? Heed these 5 possible reasons some social networks fail – there are lessons for all marketers here!

dead social networks resized 600

Reason Number 1: Not Enough to Keep Users Interested

Sometimes social networks fail because, after the completion of profiles and posting of pics, there’s just not enough to keep users interested and busy. Such was the case with Friendster. The site was very focused on the creation of meaty profiles and on providing testimonials for friends, but that was pretty much all there was. You could send messages and join groups, but there was no feed and not enough to keep people engaged over the long term, according to PCMag.com.

Reason Number 2: Lacking Vision

There are always opinions about why a site like MySpace goes down the tube, especially after it enjoys significant popularity. One opinion that seems to hold true is a lack of vision. Some social networks come up with (or stumble onto) a great idea that gets people excited. But all these networks have is one trick up their sleeves. They don’t know where to go next, or worse, fail to even look forward to the next step (or the next trick). This may be what sets sites like Facebook apart; they’re always looking ahead to what users will want next and figuring out how to provide it.

Reason Number 3: Poor Technology

If a social network is confusing, cumbersome, or even downright ugly to use, why should users stick around when something cleaner/nicer comes along? According to CSMonitor.com, technology was a major problem with MySpace and a boon for Facebook. CSMonitor.com decribes MySpace as chaotic, customizable and confusing while referring to Facebook’s clean lines as a benefit. Forbes.com also blames technology, at least in part, for the MySpace decline, asserting that the social network failed to hire employees who where technical enough.

Reason Number 4: Failure to Perform a Clear Duty

Some social networks fail simply because they don’t perform a clear and desirable duty. How can a platform hope to survive, and even thrive, if it doesn’t fulfil a need and fulfill it well. This was a problem for Second Life, which did attract plenty of attention and did have an appealing look. However, it didn’t offer anything its potential audience really needed, or wanted, and in the end, it failed to perform well, perhaps because it had no clear duty. Innovation isn’t enough by itself. A successful social network, according to Slate.com, has to combine innovation with an important job well done.

Reason Number 5: Bad Luck or Bad Timing

It is even possible for a social network to fail because of bad luck or bad timing. SixDegrees.com is an example of this. Hailed by Afridesign as one of the first social networks to really take off, the site had not only a lot of good ideas but also millions of users at one point. While it may be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of its downfall, it did take a hit from some bad luck, including the effects of a recession and 9/11. This, combined with an immature online advertising industry and immature technology may have been enough to break this network.

How can you apply these lessons to your own marketing efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 
Dead Social Networks_ Lessons For All Marketers

What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

Social media can have a profound effect on your company’s success, and creating a corporate social media training program can help you take full advantages of the opportunities it provides. Social media tools can only help you reach your goals if your employees know how to use them: not just adequately, but to their fullest potential. To get the most out of social media, get your whole team involved and provide an effective training program to ensure they know what they’re doing. Below are some of the most important things to include when creating a social media training program.

Comfort-Level Based Courses

Individuals in your organization will likely have different comfort levels when it comes to social media tools. Customize training offerings to cater to their needs. This is the most effective approach for ensuring that your team gets the training it needs, each person actually learns something, and no one gets stuck in an overwhelming or underwhelming training course.

The main comfort levels are as follows:

  • Digital Natives: These people have usuallygrown up with digital tools at their disposal and feel comfort with using a wide range of tools and learning new tools as they come along. Usually, these individuals use digital tools as a daily part of their business and personal lives and feel as if they’ve practically lost a limb if cut off from them for too long.
  • Savvy Technologists: These individuals may not have been weaned on digital tools like digital natives, but they are very comfortable using them. They often use digital tools in their daily lives but don’t feel quite so lost without them.
  • Reluctant Users: The people in this group know about the main tools in use today, but are rather hesitant to use them. The tools they do use are not used on a daily basis.
  • Digital Contrarians: Some people prefer traditional tools, and this group meets that criteria. These individuals are generally resistant to using digital tools and may be prone to feeling confused and ridiculing others’ reliance on them.
  • Digital Newbies: While the people in this group might not scoff at digital tools like the digital contrarians do, they probably aren’t knowledgeable about them or why they are important. They simply don’t use them, aren’t experienced with them, and believe they get along fine without them. However, they might not feel opposed to their use.

Perform Due Diligence for a Solid Plan

Creating and implementing an effective corporate social media training program requires you to do a little digging and use your results to create a clear plan.

Here is some of what you should consider:

  1. What’s your social media mission? What are your goals and objectives over the short term and long term?
  2. How will you track and measure results?
  3. What platforms will you use, and why? What kinds of content will you create/share?
  4. What is your internal social media policy? This includes policies and behaviors for employees in the professional realm as well as personally. For example, do you want your employees to disclose that they work for your company on their social media accounts? Will you allow your employees to post family pics and amusing anecdotes using the same accounts/platforms on which they discuss your business?

Provide Clear Employee Guidelines/ Expectations

Your training program should include very clear expectations for your employees. If they have to guess about any of this, you are pretty much guaranteed to be unhappy at some point. Here are some things to cover:

  1. Who can speak for your company? This includes everything from the most basic comments and responses to all-out, official announcements. Can everyone speak for your company, a single team, or only key people? What happens in an emergency situation? Your training should include what constitutes an emergency (including some examples) and who can speak out then.
  2. What is the overall voice/ tone for your brand? You never want the messages coming from your company to sound confused or haphazard. Your voice and tone should always represent your company’s character, establish its credibility, and convey its purpose.
  3. What topics are off limits? There are some things you won’t want your employees to post or share, such as confidential information and negative remarks about your competitors.
  4. Who is the go to-person? From time to time, your employees may come across social media content that needs a response yet realize they aren’t the right people to provide that response (because of knowledge levels, experience levels, or both). Give your employees people to send this content to, so they aren’t forced to respond on their own or let opportunities pass.

The Specifics

It’s one thing to discuss social media and digital tools in general, but what your employees really need is specifics. Do the following:

  • Train employees on each platform’s use separately (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Include not only the how to but also the why to, explaining how you expect each platform to benefit your business.
  • Share best practices for each platform and content types for each. Always provide specific examples.
  • Share the reasoning behind any special tools you want your employees to use and provide training on them as well.

When you’re using social media for your own personal use, you can just jump in the water and start swimming. However, using social media for business requires a strategic and informed approach. Creating an effective corporate social media training program is a way to empower your employees as social media ambassadors and ensure that your team is all on the same page towards meeting your goals.

image source: flickr (ijames)

 
What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients

How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients

How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients
 
LinkedIn groups provide a good way to find new clients for your business. Remember that networking goes a long way toward getting your name out there, generating interest in you and your services, and building the kind of relationships that lead to prospect inquiries, referrals, and eventually, sales. You can get started along the right path by creating an appealing, SEO profile, connecting with others, and making regular posts, but joining the right kind of groups can provide a significant boost along the way.


 

Finding the Right Groups

The best type of group for finding clients is one made up of your target audience. So if you’re a virtual assistant who caters to real estate agents, you want to find a group of busy real estate agents looking to not only expand their customer bases but also find ways to streamline efforts, focusing more on selling than handling paperwork and generating new leads. However, you might also benefit from joining a group of your own virtual assistant peers (or creating one). Believe it or not, the competition can help you stay abreast of changes in your field, give you informed ears against which to bounce ideas, and provide referrals. A peer might be happy to pass along a prospective customer whom he doesn’t have the time, knowledge, or experience to serve, especially if you’re willing to send referrals his way as well.

Making new connections.

Within your group, there are likely to be people with whom you want to connect. You can find these people by performing an advanced people search, sending them a message, and asking them if they’d like to connect with you. Be careful, however, to only reach out to those most likely to be interested in connecting with you. You don’t want to abuse this opportunity.

Get in on group discussions.

Show that you have knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to share, which will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will make you an interesting contact and encourage invites. Next, it will help others take notice of you and make sure prospective clients (and those who might provide referrals) become aware of your brand. Finally, by using a well-crafted signature, you can encourage prospects to view your profile or send you invites.

Ask questions, create polls, and learn.

You can learn a great deal by asking questions, reading the answers to questions others post, and creating polls. Your prospects will be only too happy to share what they want and need as well as what’s missing from the services they currently use. Your peers may share problems they currently face in business as well as complaints, concerns, and wishes they hear from prospects and former and current clients. This information is gold to you, as it will help you create solutions to offer your prospects.Have you experienced success with using LinkedIn to attract clients? Share your tips with us!

 

How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients

3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve probably heard your share of amazing social media success stories. But when you consider your own results, you might wonder why you’re not enjoying a fraction of the same traffic, attention, leads, and sales. The answer is often one or all of the three social media mistakes listed below:

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

There are many social media platforms you can use for your business, and you’ve probably heard how important it is to establish a strong presence on most, if not all, of them. However, you have to consider how many hours you have in your day and how many hands you have helping you. If you spread yourself too thin, you will have a much harder time doing a good job with any of your social media efforts. Instead, concentrate on the one, two, or three platforms you can handle at first, and do a bang-on job with them. Add on additional networks as time allows. Just think: if you do well enough at the start and grow your business, you may be able to afford the help you need to tackle more of the other opportunities down the line.

Making an Inconsistent Effort

Often, business owners start off strong but then fade fast when it comes to social media. This can happen for a number of reasons. You might run out of time or get busy with other projects. You may discover that there’s much to learn and feel the need to take a step back while you get up to speed. Or you might put effort in at first and get disappointed when your expectations aren’t met right away, giving up altogether or putting in only a weak effort going forward. Consistency is key when you want to enjoy results in this area. Develop solid plans, have realistic expectations, and stick with it. Slow and steady wins this race!

Taking the Easiest Path

Some parts of social media can be relatively easy, such as tweeting and leaving short comments on others’ blogs and pages. But focusing too much on simply posting probably won’t help you reach your goals on a reasonable timeline if you’re a new business or one that isn’t well known. A large business that’s known far and wide doesn’t have to work as hard from the very beginning as you will have to. As a smaller, newer business, you’ll need to work harder on positioning yourself to attract positive attention and working to gain your audience’s interest in learning more about you and checking you out on your various social media platforms. Find ways to get out there in front of your audience, such as by volunteering your time for events that are frequented by your prospects and seeking partnerships with companies that can help your business grow, get more attention, and build its reputation. Guest blogging and providing content for larger, established outlets that already have the ear of your audience can help as well.

The good news is it’s never too late to correct any mistakes you’ve made with social media. But the sooner you do correct them, the faster you can move towards achieving your goals.

10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

Wondering if Twitter can help your business? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Read on for 10 ways you can use Twitter for your small business:

1. Build Brand Awareness

One of the top benefits of using Twitter for business is that it helps build brand awareness. With Twitter, you can share information about your brand with consumers far and wide, reaching out to customers and prospects in your local area, city or state; across the country; and around the world. Even a very small company can build big brand awareness with Twitter.

2. Monitor Conversations

Just think of how effective your business would be if you knew what others were saying about it. Twitter offers you the chance to monitor conversation about your business in real time. Then, you can take what you learn and use it to build on your strengths and make improvements as necessary.

3. Promote Content

Twitter makes it very easy to promote your content. Whether you have an informative website, engaging blog, instructional video, or moving presentation to share, your Twitter account provides the perfect opportunity to drive traffic there.

4. Engage Your Audience

Often, businesses do a good deal of talking at their prospects simply because of the marketing approaches they choose. Twitter, however, allows you to do things a bit differently and engage with the people you seek to influence. When you focus on engagement, customers and prospects feel more connected with and loyal to your business.

5. Find Business Contacts

Twitter is a great resource for connecting with other business people. Whether you’re looking for business people with whom to network, potential partners or people to trade referrals with, Twitter makes connecting with others easy.

6. Keep Up to Date

Keeping up with industry news and updates can be important in making the right choices for your business. Thanks to Twitter, it’s easy to stay informed of the latest news and trends.

7. Demonstrate Your Desire to Help

Consumers often feel fatigued when hit with just another sales pitch. Twitter allows you a way to work up to the sale by sharing information and resources. This encourages customers and prospects to view you as helpful rather than simply after the sale.

8. Provide Customer Service

Twitter isn’t just for chit chat and sharing, you can also use it for customer service. Outdo the competition by providing fast, responsive support online.

9. Find Your Newest Employee

Use Twitter to find your next star employee. Just think, your followers are people who are interested or involved in your industry. At least some among them will be interested in your available job.

10. Enjoy an SEO Boost

Links from social media accounts to your website help boost your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your website. And when your links are retweeted again and again? Expect to get even more love from the search engines.

How have you used Twitter to help your business?

10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

Benefits of Facebook for Business

How Can Facebook Benefit My Business?

How Can Facebook Benefit My Business?

Facebook has become a household name, and just about everyone seems to have a Facebook account or at least some interest in logging on. If you’ve hesitated to use Facebook for business, now is a great time to jump in. There are many benefits to creating a Facebook page for your business. Here’s just a few of the benefits the website has to offer:
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Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Oh, my! There are many different social media venues to choose from. While each one might have a place in a social media strategy, not all may be right for your business.

We presented this free social media class entitled “Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?” last week. In case you weren’t able to attend, you can view the presentation right here:

A few of the key takeaways our students learned in this class were:
  • Facebook is about customer retention & relationships
  • Twitter is great for customer service & outreach
  • Pinterest can be used to build rapport with your customers
  • A blog is essential if you don’t have a website
  • LinkedIn is a great tool for account executives and C-level management

 

 

We’ll have more free online classes coming soon. In the meantime, sign up for our free weekly Small Biz Social Media Tips newsletter.

 

How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile?

How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile?

How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile?

Creating a social media profile shouldn’t be hard. After all, you have just a small amount of space  to fill. But it’s common to draw a blank when faced with all those empty boxes. You have a lot to share, but what portion of it should you put there? Here are some ideas for creating a social media profile that works for your business:

The Right Image

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this definitely applies to Internet profiles. Remember, when a person reads your profile online, he doesn’t have
the benefit of looking into your eyes or judging the firmness of your handshake like he would in person. As such, you have to use your profile to make an impression. How can you do so? Start by including a professional-looking headshot, and be sure to smile. And no matter how messy your desk looks or how much you love your children, keep the clutter and the kids out of the profile image you use for business networking.

Use a photo that shows your best smile. Victoria Beckham gets away with pouting and scowling in photos, but you can’t. A professional headshot lends your profile credibility, and your smile makes you look approachable and friendly. Don’t risk turning potential clients and business owners off with anything less.

Contact Information

This may seem a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people forget to make their contact information easily visible. You want to make it as simple as possible for interested parties to contact you about your business, so don’t bury your information. Put your email address and phone number front and center. Provide the link to your website as well. If you keep regular business hours, list them, so prospects will know when to contact you.

Description

Provide an upbeat, easy-to-understand description of your business. People who view your social media profile should be able to read your brief description and get a good idea of what you have to offer them. Write your description in terms of benefits for your prospects. Avoid talking too much about you and how great you are, and focus more on how your business will make your client’s life or business better. If you have enough space, include your mission statement in addition to a description of your business. Be careful, however, about using too much technical jargon in your description. The average person should be able to figure out what you do without getting a headache. Last but not least, include a call to action. If you want your audience to contact you right away, be sure to say so.

Links

Your profile is no place to put links to your best friend’s site or that great information you read last week. This is the place to include links to your business website or online portfolio. If you have more than one site or many samples of work available for inclusion, make sure you post only the very best in your profile. Additionally, you may find it beneficial to include a link to updated information related to your business. For example, if you tweet on a regular basis, make it easy for your clients and prospects to find you on Twitter.

Personality

Inject your social media profile with some personality. Though your profile is meant for business, a personal touch adds appeal. Add something of interest about you or include your personal motto. Add a creative line of text you came up with or a brief boast about an interesting achievement. Your personal tidbit could be about your new pilot’s license, the fact that you speak four languages or your commitment to a particular charity. The point is just to add something that makes people remember you and helps you stand out among the competition. Just stay away from taboo topics like sexuality and politics.

What does your social media profile say about you and your business? How do you leverage it effectively?

How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile_

twitter for writers

Twitter for Writers

twitter for writers

I recently presented “Twitter for Writers” at the Business of Pet Writing Conference and at the ASJA 41st Annual Writers Conference.

Twitter is one of my favorite social media topics to present on; as a longtime user (I joined with my first, now dormant, account in early 2007) I’ve found it consistently the most valuable tool in my arsenal. It’s my go-to resource for news and information daily; I’ve learned about nearly every major world event in the last three or four years through my Twitter stream. I’ve also made amazing connections through Twitter, including wonderful friends as well as clients. Accordingly, I feel pretty passionate about why everyone should use Twitter (though I know not everyone will) and I think that passion comes through when I present about it.

This presentation is very brief; I only have about 40 minutes to present and 10 minutes for questions, so it’s a pretty streamlined overview of why writers should use Twitter with some tips and tricks on how to use it effectively.

If you’re a writer, journalist, an aspiring writer, or, well, really anyone who’s looking for quick ideas and solid takeaways on using Twitter, I think you’ll appreciate this.

 

 

If you’re interested in more, read the following blog posts:

Steve Buttry: Twitter Tips for Journalists

Tweepi: 5 Twitter Tips for Journalists

Change the World With Words: Twenty Twitter Tips for Writers

Poets & Writers: Thirty Three Twitter Feeds to Follow

Daily Writing Tips: 40 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Carrie Mumford: Twitter for Writers: Powerful Tool or Evil Time Sucker?

I’m always looking for other great posts to add to my Twitter arsenal – please add them in the comments. And if you were at my presentation, please reach out on Twitter and say hi!

Twitter for Writers

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

Your Twitter bio is one of the most important pieces of content you will write on Twitter.  People will use it in search, to find people that match their interests. They will use it to decide whether to follow you back when you follow them.  You only have 160 characters, so it’s important to make the most of every one.  When you first get started, do the best you can to describe yourself but don’t worry about it too much; your bio can easily be changed.

 

There are different styles of bio but it’s best to stick to some general rules for crafting your Twitter bio. (At least until you become a household name, and then you can do whatever you want.)

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

  • Use keywords that are descriptive of your work (realtor, chef, or copywriter)
  • Modify these terms with specific words that help set you apart (realtor in Topeka, Asian-fusion chef or email copywriter)
  • Add something personal about yourself if you occasionally tweet about it (tennis, mom, eats out a lot)
  • Even in 160 characters, your bio can have a “voice.”  If it does, make sure it’s in keeping with your brand voice. The tone can be humorous, friendly, coy or sophisticated, as long as it is in keeping with the image you want to present
  • Make use of the link that can be added to your bio (this will usually be your website), but you may also add a link in your Twitter bio if you have more than one site you want people to look at to learn about you. Don’t use a shortened URL if you can avoid it, because those links are also powerful branding for you (especially assuming they’re your blog or company website)

For more inspiration, check out these lists of Twitter bios that others have compiled.

Remember that your bio is your way of saying hello to potential followers.  You don’t want to be too salesy when you first say hello.  Think about who you want to appeal to and what might interest those people. Take your time crafting your Twitter bio and modify it as you learn and grow.

Portions of this post originally appeared at the Social Media School blog.

Image source: flickr (Asiatic League)

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

5 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Twitter Followers

5 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Twitter Followers

5 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Twitter Followers

Valentine’s Day is drawing closer and love is in the air. You don’t need a special day to show your appreciation to your Twitter followers; anytime is a good time! Here are 5 easy ways you can show your Twitter community you care:

1. Thank your new followers for following you. Take the time to read each new follower’s bio and make your “Thank you” tweet personal.

2. Retweet their tweets and share their links. If your Twitter followers are sharing good content, help expand their reach and share it with your other followers too.

3. Give them a #FF mention. #FF is the popular “Follow Friday” meme on Twitter. As the name suggests, this is done on Fridays and is a means of recommending other Twitter users to folllow.

4. Follow them back. We don’t advocate follow spam Twitter users, but you can show your appreciation to your Twitter followers simply by following them back.

5. Listen & respond thoughtfully. The biggest compliment one can pay to another Twitter user is to actually read their tweets and respond. It’s simple enough but has the biggest impact.

 

 

By taking the time to do these simple things, you’ll not only show appreciation for your Twitter family, your Twitter experience will be that much richer and rewarding for both you and your followers.

Basic Success Measures in Social Media

Basic Success Measures in Social Media

Basic Success Measures in Social Media

 
In a perfect world, before you can measure how well you’re doing, you need to know what you’ve set out to accomplish. But in reality, when you get started in social media, your objectives may be rather general. It will take time to refine and define your goals.  So let’s take a look at some of the basic success measures in social media which you can employ when you’re just dipping your toe in the waters.

One of the wonderful aspects of digital marketing is its measurability. Every day your efforts will speak to you, as you receive feedback that lets you know how people are responding to your content. This constant feedback loop allows you to constantly learn and improve.

 

 

Here are some basic methods of measurements that you can use.  These are all free tools (though some have advanced or paid options).

 

Facebook

Use Facebook Insights on your Facebook Business Page to measure:

  • Growth of Likes: how many people Like your page, and is this growing steadily?
  • Engagement per post, which includes Likes, comments and shares on each individual piece of content you create on your Page

Twitter

Use Hootsuite, or other third party tools such as BufferApp or Timely to see:

  • How many new followers you gain each week: are you gaining new followers? You may lose some too, so look at the net gain.
  • How many clicks you receive on links in your tweets: is your content interesting to people? What content seems to be resonating them most?
  • How many retweets you receive each week: do people think your content is interesting/valuable enough to share with their followers? This is really one of the most sincere forms of appreciation for your content.

Your Blog

If you have a WordPress blog, WordPress will offer some analytics including how many views and comments you receive.  However, the best way to understand what results youâ’re getting is to connect your blog to the free service provided by Google Analytics which offers a wealth of information, including:

  • Pageviews: how many pages on your blog or website were viewed in a particular timeframe
  • Post views: how many times each post was viewed (important for understanding what content is most successful)
  • Unique visitors: how many individuals visited your site/blog
  • Traffic sources: where your site/blog traffic is coming from; is it coming mainly from Facebook? Twitter? Organic search?
  • Traffic to your website: how much traffic your blog is sending over to your main website; after all, isn’t promoting your website part of the reason you started a blog?
  • Keywords generating traffic: in organic search, look at the keywords which are driving traffic to your site/blog – use this info to tailor future content based on successful keywords

When you look at any of these numbers, focus on the highs and lows. Ask yourself “why did people respond to this with such enthusiasm?” or “what made this one post receive a fraction of the response that all the others got that month?” Don’t be too fast to jump to conclusions. Remember that there are many factors that enter into any individual result taking off or bombing. While it may be something brilliant that you said, it might also be the timing, the fact that it was promoted in your newsletter or was tweeted by a celebrity. It could be the quality of the photo or the fact that there was a photo at all. Analysis is both an art and a science. Perform it with a team if possible, or at least ask the opinion of others. And remember the marketing maxim of all direct marketing: “always be testing!”

Are there other basic metrics you use to manage your digital business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

how to write a twitter bio

How To Write A Powerful Twitter Bio

how to write a twitter bio

Your Twitter bio is one of the most important pieces of content you will write on Twitter so you’ll want to write a powerful Twitter bio to make the most of this small space in social. People will use it in search, to find people that match their interests. They will use it to decide whether to follow you back when you follow them. You only have 160 characters, so it’s important to make the most of every one. When you first get started, do the best you can to describe yourself but don’t worry too much, because your bio can easily be changed. There are different styles of bio but it’s best to stick to some general rules; at least until you become a household name, and then you can do whatever you want.

How to Write a Powerful Twitter Bio

 

  • Use keywords that are descriptive of your work (realtor, chef, or copywriter)
  • Modify these terms with specific words that help set you apart (realtor in Topeka, Asian-fusion chef or email copywriter)
  • Add something personal about yourself if you occasionally tweet about it (tennis, mom, eats out a lot)
  • Even in 160 characters, your bio can have a “voice.” If it does, make sure it’s in keeping with your brand voice. The tone can be humorous, friendly, coy or sophisticated, as long as it is in keeping with the image you want to present
  • Make use of the link that can be added to your bio (this will usually be your website), but you may also add a link in your Twitter bio if you have more than one site you want people to look at to learn about you. Don’t use a shortened URL if you can avoid it, because those links are also powerful branding for you (especially assuming they’re your blog or company website)

 

Take your time crafting your Twitter bio

 

Remember that your bio is your way of saying hello to potential followers. You don’t want to be too salesy when you do it. Think about who you want to appeal to and what might interest those people. Take your time crafting your Twitter bio and modify it as you learn from your experience on Twitter what types of content appeal to your followers the most.

Please share your favorite bio examples in the comments; we’ll compile a list of powerful Twitter bios in a future post.

how to write a twitter bio

How Often Should I Tweet?

With over 106 million users sending more than a total of 140 million updates per day; you can see why we think Twitter is an essential platform for your small business. We’ve written about Twitter a lot, everything from finding people to follow, finding content to share and how to organize your Twitter stream to keep up with the conversation.

One of the questions businesses often ask is “How often should I Tweet?” This topic has been debated by social media pundits, almost since the dawn of Twitter. The truth is, there isn’t a a “one size fits all” answer. The number of Tweets you should send is directly tied to the size of your Twitter community and your content.

 

 

Here’s a few things to keep in mind:How Often Should I Tweet?

Tweet Consistently

For your brand or business, this may mean 7 days a week or only Monday – Friday, depending on when your customers are online. This doesn’t mean scheduling or Tweeting at the same time, every day. It means that you shouldn’t send out 65 Tweets in one day and then not return to Twitter for a month.

Keep Your Content Balanced

Remember, you want to be a “Mindful Maven.” If you’re Tweets are constantly about your own business or blog posts, you’re followers will catch on and ignore them. Even worse, they are likely to quickly unfollow you.

Stay Engaged

Twitter is about having conversations, not just broadcasting links or announcements. Seek out, join and start conversations. In this aspect, you really can’t Tweet too often.

Yes, you can Tweet too little, and yes, you can Tweet too often. It’s okay to experiment a little; update at different times and at different frequencies; Tweet out different types of content to find out what resonates with your Twitter followers. The most important thing is that you just do it and do it consistently, with good content and your community in mind.

 

8 Types Of Content For Facebook Business Pages

8 Types Of Content For Facebook Business Pages

Your Facebook business page is just one more point of contact for your business.  It’s a way for customers to reach you and a way for you and your community to have conversations.

Before we can answer the question of what to say on Facebook, you need to consider what type of image or personality you want to project. How does your brand “sound” when it talks to people? Are you funny, informative, authoritative, compassionate, serious, helpful, inspirational? List the words that describe the personal side of your brand and you’ll have a hint of what to say and how to say it.


Once you know how your brand sounds, here are eight categories of posts that you can choose from to start. You can probably think of even more once you get going.

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What Social Media Can NOT Do

What Social Media Can NOT Do

What Social Media Can NOT Do

Social media can do many things for your small business. It can help you generate qualified leads, reduce marketing expenses, increase search engine ranking and build brand advocates. There are plenty of statistics proving how effective social media is.

As powerful as social media can be, it is not the end-all, be-all solution for your business. Before you embark on your voyage into social media, it’s important to understand what social media can NOT do for you.

Substitute for a good marketing strategy

 

 

Most of your social media presences are “opt-in” when it comes to your customers: meaning, they need to be able to find you there in order to like or follow you. If the general public doesn’t know about you, they aren’t going to be looking for you on Facebook or Twitter and they definitely won’t be reading your blog. Social media should not be your only strategy. It can, however, enhance your marketing efforts.

Turn a bad product or service into a good one

It doesn’t matter how much hype you generate in the blogosphere for your new product, if it’s a bad product, it’s a bad product. In fact, it will only make your product or service appear worse because you’ll have that many more people talking about how bad it is. You can use social media to crowdsource and generate ideas for improving your product, if you’re open to listening.

Provide a quick fix for a bad reputation

Social media is grounded in transparency and honesty. You can try to spin a negative story about your company, but it’s not going to work. Today’s online consumers are savvy enough to know what is spin and what’s not. You can use social media to begin telling your story in an authentic and sincere way.

Replace good customer service

There simply is no substitute for good customer service. If your company is using social media, it’s only a matter of time before you will find a customer service request on your Facebook wall or on Twitter. Failing to respond is simply publicizing poor service. If you’ve got a solid customer service policy in place, social media can be an avenue for delivering on your promise.

You can’t use social media cover ups to account for bad products or bad strategy. Social media should be considered an important part of your overall marketing strategy, but it shouldn’t be thought of as a silver bullet. Use it as something that it’s not and you may find yourself in a bad place. Use it wisely and reap the rewards of customer loyalty, engagement with your brand, and ultimately, sales.

Have you encountered companies using social media to cover something up, gloss over a bad product, or instead of providing true customer service? We’d love to hear your examples in the comments.

What’s The Best Follower to Following Ratio on Twitter?

The answer is: It depends! When you first join Twitter and get started, you will mostly likely be following more people tand have fewer followers. When you’re just getting rolling, don’t worry too much about your followers.

Find people to follow who truly interest you. Keep in mind that when you follow someone who follows very few people but has many followers, it is not likely that you’ll get followed back. That’s fine. Choose important people to follow, but also choose those with a better balance of following-followers and it’s likely that some will reciprocate and follow you.

 

 

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How To Schedule Your Tweets For Maximum Exposure

Sharing links with your Twitter followers is a great way to share industry-related information, keep your followers up-to-date and, and keep them entertained.  To do this, though, you need to be tweeting these links when most of your followers are online and likely to see them.  Given time zone changes and the differences in individual schedules, it can be difficult to know exactly when to send tweets for maximum effectiveness; even harder still is to be at your computer, ready to push the send button at exactly those times.

 

scheduling-tweets

Fortunately, there is a simple, free tool called Timely which takes the guesswork out of Twitter timing and also allows you to schedule tweets in advance, so you can get out from behind your desk.  With Timely, your content will get the best possible engagement in terms of link-clicks and retweets.  Timely is extremely easy to use, so we recommend it for people who are eager to ramp up their Twitter efforts and start to publish a lot of content.

In order to use Timely, simply go to Timely.is, connect your Twitter account and enter a tweet and a link. The tweet will then be scheduled for you, in order to generate maximum exposure based on the Twitter habits of your followers.  Timely even offers a toolbar button so you can submit and schedule links as you’re browsing the Internet and come across something relevant and interesting to your community.

Timely  determines the best time for your tweet is by analyzing your last 199 tweets for link clicks and retweets.  It also keeps a historical record of the tweets you send through their service, allowing you to see the number of clicks, retweets and reach over time.  Looking at your tweet history, you’ll learn a lot about what people responded to, shared and clicked on. And that’s one of the greatest features of social media. You’ll be able to experiment, learn from your results and get better every day.

Do you use a Twitter scheduling tool? Have experience with Timely or any others? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Note: Social Media School has no relationship with Timely except as a user.

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Use Social Media At Your Next Conference

Use Social Media At Your Next Conference

Use Social Media At Your Next Conference

I recently returned from the BlogHer Conference in San Diego, the largest gathering of women in blogging – at 3,200+ strong, we’re quite the amazing group. With BlogHer, Evo Conference and Mom 2.0 Summit all happening within 1-2 months of each other, I’ve been relying on a bunch of new (and older) tools and platforms to maximize my conference-going and networking. Some of these tools may be new to you, too so I’m happy to share them with you.

HootSuite: This is my go-to app for managing my own Twitter and Facebook presences, as well as those of my clients. The HootSuite iPhone and Android apps and website allow for easy creation of a new stream that searches for the hashtag of the event you’re at – so you can quickly scan to see what everyone else is doing and saying.  I also use HootSuite to livetweet events, with the event hashtag, of course.

Foursquare: Not everyone wants to broadcast their location, but for those of you that do, Foursquare makes conferences a lot of fun, particularly for a conference like SxSW with multiple events happening at once. Seeing where your colleagues and friends check in can help you make a snap decision on where to go next. I also use Foursquare as a simple way to catalog my travels – where I ate, what hotel I stayed at, etc.

Hashable: Available as an iPhone app (or use on the web), this site allows two people to make quick connections via Twitter, which are then augmented with your contact info online.  At the recent Mom 2.0 Summit, a friend of mine made two important connections for me within the space of 30 minutes, both using Hashable.  I love this for its speed (no long-winded intro emails necessary) and ease-of-use via the iPhone app (though the website is just as user-friendly). [UPDATE 2012: Hashable is, sadly, no longer in business!]

cellphone

QR Codes: This is a bit on the heavy geek-tech side, but it’s a cool icebreaker. Use the ZXing Project QR Code Generator to create a 2-D barcode with your contact information in it.  Then store that barcode as a photo in your smartphone. If you meet people who carry a smartphone, suggest that they snap your QR Code (from the photo) using a QR code reader (I recommend the i-nigma Reader) to quickly upload your contact info to their phone. You can also print the QR Code on a business card (mine has one) but that takes more advance planning!

Group Texting: If you’re traveling as a pack, or want to make plans with people as you go, try out one of the up-and-coming group text services. These apps and services allow one-to-many texting, saving you lots of phone calls and making quicker connections than email. And, at a conference with bad mobile web reception (who hasn’t been in those black-hole ballrooms?), texts will usually get through.

Once you’ve got all your social media tools in place, think about the physical tools you use, too. Take a Sharpie pen so you can write notes on any business card, even a glossy one – those notes may be really helpful to you when you’re struggling to remember who’s who.

cards

Here’s my special trick for keeping business cards together – thanks to the crafty and smart Tauni Everett for this idea: a binder ring (with holepunch) for all the cards from a single conference. These can sit on my desk together for easy flipping and referencing.

Whatever you do, remember that networking is all in the follow-up – so whether you use Twitter, Facebook or good old-fashioned email, don’t forget to follow-up with your new contacts as soon as possible after the event.

 

 

Are you in riding the conference carousel? How have you used (or do you plan to use) social media to help keep it all together? Please let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared in a slightly different form at the Creative Concepts Blog, where I’m a regular contributor on social media topics.

 

 

Social Media Safety for Teens

Social Media Safety for Teens

Social Media Safety for Teens

With back-to-school around the corner, now is a great time to talk to your kids about social media safety and smarts. Last summer I was fortunate to be able to present a series of seminars to a bunch of tweens and teens at an upstate New York summer camp. I think the most important concept we discussed together was the need to think about what you’re posting today, to avoid issues when a future college or employer looks you up online and discovers a youthful mistake.

Hopefully this presentation (click through to view on Slideshare.net) will help you to talk to your tween or teen about internet and social media safety.

 

Please leave a comment if you’ve had or plan to have this conversation with your kids. We’d love to hear how it goes!

 

Dirty Twitter Stream? Clean it Up with Lists!

If you’re following a significant number of people on Twitter, it’s likely your stream is pretty full. It’s fun to follow a lot of people, but with so many updates flying by, it can get difficult to focus on the conversation and people you care most about. You may even be tempted to start deleting some of the Twitter accounts you follow, but that’s a difficult decision. How do you decide who makes the cut? If you started following them to begin with, unless that account turned out to be a spam account, it’s not likely you want to un-follow them now.

twitter lists

Twitter lists to the rescue!

In the same amount of time it would take you to comb through the accounts you follow to start the process of deleting, you can easily organize them into lists instead. After you have them organized, you can then add your lists as a stream using your favorite Twitter application, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.

 

 

Both HootSuite & TweetDeck will allow you to create and organize Twitter lists on the fly. Or, if you prefer, you can add and organize lists directly at Twitter.com. The trick to using lists effectively is to not have too many, or too few. Think about who you are following and how you would like to organize conversations or likely topics and plan your lists accordingly. For example, if your brand distributes or publishes children’s books, you may want lists for customers, children’s literature advocates, parenting and another one for mom bloggers. No matter what product or service your brand offers, you should be following your competitors, so you’ll want a list for them too.

The other thing you will need to decide is whether your lists will be public or private. Choosing a public setting will allow other Twitter users to view and follow your list. Private will be only visible to you. Unless you want your customers to start following your competitors too, it’s a good idea to keep that list as ‘private’

Now that you’ve thought through how you want to organize everything, it’s time to start creating those lists! We’re going to give you the walk through on how to do it from Twitter.com; you can find out more on how to create a list on HootSuite here, or on TweetDeck here.

Step One

From your Twitter home page, click on the word ‘Following’ This will bring you to a page listing all of the people you follow in reverse chronological order.

 

lists 1

Step Two

Click the icon next to the big green ‘Following’ button and select ‘Add to List.’

lists2

Step Three

Select the appropriate list for this account. If you need to start a new list, just click ‘Create a list’ and enter the information. The user you’ve selected will be automatically added to the new list you’ve created.

lists3

You don’t need to add every person you follow to a list. Keep it neat by curating the lists that are most important to you. You can also add a person to more than one list, which is helpful too.

Once you’ve created your lists, simply add them as a stream or column in your favorite Twitter application. In HootSuite, it’s as simple as clicking the ‘Add Stream’ button, and choosing your list.

 

lists4

The process is very similar for Tweet Deck too; click the ‘+’ button, select ‘Groups/Lists’ and choose the list you’d like to add.

lists5

After you’ve added your streams or columns of lists, you can move them wherever you’d like and start following a more targeted conversation and joining in with those Twitter users most important to you.

What type of lists will you be creating on your Twitter account? How do you use Twitter lists? Please tell us in the comments.

image source: flickr (Slightly Amazing Grace)

 

blog commenting

The Lost Art of Blog Commenting

blog commenting

It’s likely you’ve read a lot of passionate blog posts about the importance of an effective Facebook page, active Twitter account, and optimized profile on LinkedIn as well as why it’s essential to have a corporate blog. I don’t disagree at all. Each of these is a critical component to your social media strategy, but one piece that’s often overlooked is commenting on other blogs.

Leaving comments on blogs is like the piece that belongs right in the middle of your puzzle; without it, you’ll have a hole in the middle of the bigger picture. If you’re wondering why your social efforts aren’t gaining enough momentum, consider some of the following reasons for incorporating commenting into your strategy.

 

 

Why You Should Comment on Blogs

Search Engine Optimization

Popular search engines factor in the number of inbound links to your site. Most blog comment forms include a ‘website’ or ‘blog’ field. Each time you leave a comment, you’re creating an additional inbound link. If you leave only three comments each day (weekdays only), that’s an additional 60 inbound links to your site each month. While the exact algorithm search engines use to determine the top spot in search results remains a closely guarded secret, it’s fair enough to say, ‘the more inbound links the better.’

Reaching New Communities

Imagine you’re at a cocktail party and your friend is talking to a group of really sharp people. You walk over, join in the conversation and start meeting new people. By the end of the party, you’ve exchanged business cards with several other members of the group. In a similar way, blog commenting gives you exposure to new people and communities. In addition to helping your SEO, each website link gives readers a way to get in touch with and find out more about your brand.

Reputation Management

Businesses and brands can also use blog commenting as a customer service tool to help manage their reputation or simply thank loyal customers. If you received a complaint or a compliment via email, wouldn’t you respond in some way? Being mentioned on another blog, in a positive or negative manner, should be addressed too.

Part Of the Community

The three previous points listed here are solid reasons to incorporate blog commenting into your social media strategy. But the most important, and most overlooked, reason is to become part of a larger community. Whether it’s mom bloggers, tech-savvy blogs, or other topics of interest to you and your business, commenting helps establish your brand as part of that community. It shows you’re listening to what the community has to say, and that you really do care.

More inbound links, better customer service, more exposure and becoming part of a community bring together all of the pieces of your social media puzzle. Of all of your social efforts, it takes the least amount of time, and it can actually be fun and interesting.

Blog Commenting Etiquette

To help ensure your comments will have the most impact, follow these simple guidelines:

DO

Make sure you’re logged in to your own company’s account.

Most blogs use a specific system for comments, such as Gravatar, Open ID and Disqus. If your own blog is using one of these systems, make sure you’re already logged in with your company’s profile first. If your brand doesn’t have one on that system, create one separate from your personal profile. ‘FoxyFlyDJLady’might get attention, but not the kind you want.

Add value to the conversation.

If you’ve got something helpful to say, by all means, say it. Steer away from leaving ‘yeah, me too’ type of comments. Even if you do agree and are only trying to show your support for the author, these type of comments are a common tactic for link-droppers (people only commenting for the purposes of getting a link back to their own site). You don’t want to be confused for one of them.

Monitor for mentions of your brand and respond appropriately.

Use a simple tool such as Social Mention to look for relevant mentions of your brand. After all, not many bloggers are going to email you to say they’re talking about you. If you find a positive mention, or if the blogger is just trying your product for the first time, tell them thank you, invite them to your community and offer help if they need it.

DON’T

Argue with a negative review.

You’re not going to please everyone, all of the time. Even if the blogger is completely wrong, using your product incorrectly or simply unfair, arguing will not make the situation any better. Instead, show professionalism and courtesy. Leave a simple comment thanking the blogger for taking the time to review your product, offer your apologies that it didn’t work out for her and offer to help answer any questions she or her readers might have.

Be overly self-promoting.

Who enjoys a conversation with someone constantly trying to sell you something? Maybe a shopoholic, but most of the blogosphere does not. If a blogger mentions they are looking for a product or service similar to yours, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a suggestion. Most other situations, it would not be appropriate. In fact, it would be considered spam.

Use abbreviated text.

Keep in mind who you are representing. ‘Gr8 post, UR the best’ isn’t the least bit professional. Unless you want to be perceived as a texting teenager, stick to spelling out the full word. On that note, be sure to have your spell check on too!

Why not start right now by leaving us a comment in response to this question: Are you leaving comments on behalf of your business or brand? What other benefits do you think commenting brings to you or your brand?

The Lost Art of Blog Commenting

How Twitter Can Help You Generate Business

How Twitter Can Help You Generate Business

How Twitter Can Help You Generate Business

 
Twitter can be a really great tool to help you find customers and to help customers find you. With over 140 million tweets per day, you can easily imagine that people are talking about your product or service. How you use it to drive sales is partly a matter of how well you search Twitter.

When you go to Twitter.com you’ll see a search box prominently on the home page. Start playing around with different searches and see what you can find that’s related to what you do. Are you a real estate attorney? Type in “real estate attorney nyc,” as follows.

 

twitter business

So what results do you get back? Here’s someone specifically looking for a real estate attorney.

twitter example

Sure, it’s only one result (in the week or so prior to this search) – but what’s one lead worth to you, as an attorney? And how long did it take you to find that lead? Um, it took me about 15 seconds.

If you were actively on Twitter, you might reach out to this person very casually. Don’t do a hard sell – perhaps tweet back something like:
@markb: Can I possibly help you find the right attorney? I’ve got a great network of lawyers.

Don’t mention that you are a real estate attorney – offer your help first, then try to continue the dialogue. You might link to an industry list of attorneys that you have access to, and say that you can vouch for some people on the list. Twitter is all about building relationships, not selling, so if you can provide a resource or link to something that’s useful, people appreciate that.

 

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The secret to generating these leads and making them work for you is to be consistent in looking for them. If you figure out a couple of searches that make sense for your business, then do those searches a couple of times a week, it’s likely you could have new leads every week (depending on your industry, of course). Then strike up a conversation with the people who are talking about your topics – very casually, and very generously. You may be surprised at the results.

 

How to Close A Social Media Account

How to Close A Social Media Account

How to Close A Social Media Account

While it’s nice to think that we’d all finish what we start, sometimes it’s not that easy. You create a Facebook page for your brand because you’ve got a marketing coordinator with extra time, but poof – the headcount is cut. Or you convince your CEO to start Tweeting, and she loses interest after about six weeks. It can happen to any brand….but there’s a right way and a wrong way to bow out gracefully.

The Wrong Way

Just stop posting. That’s what Sears Beauty did on Facebook in June 2010. They currently have 441 fans, but who knows, they may have had more at the time. But they abandoned the page without even a goodbye.

Here’s the completely confused, nonsensical Twitter account of Burt’s Bees.

burts bees

As you can see, they tweet only once every few weeks, and within the past few months they’re suddenly tweeting as some seemingly random guy, @WalkerUD97. Whoever he is. And they’re not even tweeting properly (using an @symbol at the start of the tweet….that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!). (As it turns out, Steve Walker is the Manager of Environmental Sustainability at Burt’s Bees – but you’d have to search for him and find his LinkedIn profile to know that.) Folks, if you can’t do it right, seriously, don’t do it at all.

You can exit a blog gracefully with a simple post and some information on where else to find your brand (or you). That’s what Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, did on his blog for Sun (now Oracle).

 

 

He tells us why he’s closing the blog (the Sun-Oracle merger), where to follow him and that he’s planning to reopen the blog after the dust settles. But the sad truth is that soon after this post, Jonathan was fired from Oracle, and exited via Twitter thusly:

twitter

Unfortunately, even with all of his best intentions, his Twitter account became dormant back in September 2010. In this case, while it would have been difficult for a former CEO (or employee, if you’re one of the rest of us) to go back and re-update the blog, it would have been easy to close down the Twitter account in a better manner. Read on for some good ways to exit.

There are probably thousands of examples just like this, in blogs, Twitter, Facebook and any other social network you can name. I’m sure you have some favorites, do share them in the comments.

The Right Way

Jonathan Schwartz was so right in how he exited his blog, it’s too bad he didn’t carry through to exiting Twitter properly as well. The best way to exit is to say you’re exiting. If you’re shutting down a corporate blog, you can say so in a final post, with as much detail as you can give, and then stop posting. However, it’s imperative that you keep the blog content alive, because it’s earned you some search engine friendliness, and you don’t want to lose it.

You can’t shut down Twitter or Facebook, because you risk losing your brand names in those platforms. Twitter has released dormant handles in the past, so you need to be a tiny bit active to hold your place. And on Facebook, once you delete a page, you lose everything on it forever. So the best practice in both of these platforms is to put a placeholder in, indicating where else to find you. Do this every few months or so, until you’re ready to come back to it. Here’s a good example on Twitter from @InboxDollars:

inboxdollars

The same principle applies to Facebook – tell people where you’ve gone, why, and how else they can find you.

In the end, you’ll be saving some brand face, helping your most loyal fans, and making it easier for your team to reinvigorate those accounts somewhere down the road. We’ll talk more about bringing social media accounts back from the dead in another post, soon.

Do you have thoughts about how to mothball a social media account? Please share in the comments!

Fashion and Social Media

Fashion and Social Media

Fashion and Social Media

Is social media good for fashion? The answer is a resounding yes! The fashion industry has taken notice of social media’s ability to raise awareness, generate interest, and build loyalty; fashion’s movers and shakers have discovered that people prefer feeling engaged and connected right now to viewing even the most striking magazine photos weeks after the event is over.

It’s true, however, that some in the fashion industry express concern over the level of transparency that goes along with some social media strategies. The fashion world has long fed on exclusivity and insider information.  However, even the largest fashion houses have embraced social media, recognizing that they will become obsolete if they can’t keep up with changing times.

Read more

organizing staff for social media

Organizing Your Staff for Social Media

organizing staff for social media

Just where does social media belong in an organization? Is it a marketing or public relations tool? Is it owned by customer service? Is it in a category by itself?  And – is it even important to put social media in a category? The answer is yes and no. You can implement social media strategies and enjoy success without choosing a classification. But classifying it may prove critical when you are creating social media policies and planning across the organization.

Which Department Handles Social Media?

Many companies, and social media practitioners, would have social media live in either PR or marketing. And its easy to see why. Social media has been proven time and time again as an important corporate communications tool, as well as a solid marketing tool.  And it’s clear that the length of social media’s arm and the receptiveness of online audiences make it an optimal tool for public relations departments. But social media is so much more. It has also become an important tool for R&D, customer service, and even employee recruitment.more

Each company may have a different strategy when it comes to deciding which department owns social media, but more and more are agreeing that it should be owned by everyone and therefore it may be classified as an organization-wide endeavor.  However, when ownership of social media is spread throughout an organization, communication and collaboration are key. Various departments must work together to coordinate the use of social media tools and ensure that the organization’s goals are met and everyone is on the same page. Internal communication and collaboration is critical for avoiding brand confusion and ensuring consistent implementation of cohesive strategies that benefit the organization overall. Many companies have established “social media councils” for this very purpose, bringing stakeholders from across the organization to regular meetings and online collaboration communities to work together on the company’s social media efforts.

Another school of thought is that social media should stand on its own as its own department. When social media is used across a variety of departments, some assert that it’s better for social media experts to hold the reins, communicating and planning strategies with representatives of the organization’s other departments. Others believe it’s a better idea to gradually spread ownership out over a range of departments as long as one department holds the reins initially. In this case, a department – say public relations – may explore social media and create strategies before moving on to educate other departments on the use of social media tools.

Departmental Uses of Social Media

Let’s now look at how individual departments can use social media.

Public Relations

Have a new product or service? Have exciting plans in the works? Social media makes it easy to spread the word. Start a buzz and encourage others to help you promote your products or services. Request reviews and testimonials and make sure everyone gets to read the great things people are saying about your company. Often, people who would be utterly disinterested in yet another new site or product are eager to check it out when someone in their network recommends it.

Other PR uses of social media include using social media to find, communicate, and develop relationships with journalists and bloggers; and monitoring what key journalists and bloggers are writing about and staying informed of their current topics of interest.  You can also deepen customer understanding of your company or product by producing online video and sharing it through your corporate site as well as YouTube and Facebook.  Some companies are also successfully supporting their corporate cause marketing programs by using their social presences to draw attention to their supported charities or causes.

Marketing

Social media and marketing are a natural fit.  Social media allows marketers to engage with audiences – providing valuable content, interaction, tools and tips which engender customer loyalty and attract new fans to the mix.

Increasingly, social media marketing is dependent on creating and curating a steady stream of quality content which becomes an entertaining or helpful resource to customers and potential customers.  In order to become a trusted resource for your fans, be attentive: listen to what your market wants and then offer it.  Use your own original content and curate from smart, non-competitive sources.  Provide 90 percent value and 10 percent sales/company information – or go even lighter on the company info.  This content mix works for Twitter, Facebook, your corporate blog or any other social platform.

Other ways marketers can socialize their efforts include announcing new products and services and giving community members the first chance to try or buy; posting special coupons or offers to fans and followers; promote marketing events through social platforms; and generating casual marketing research through polls, Twitter chats and blog comments.  Business-to-business companies use whitepapers, webinars or blogs to drive leads into their pipeline, and support that content with social network engagement.

Customer Service

Many organizations now use social media as a way to manage customer service concerns.  I tell clients that “Twitter is the new 800 number”  – customers expect to connect to your company using whatever platform they use the most, and they don’t care if you personally don’t understand Twitter.  Why?  Because social media allows customers to feel connected to your organization, by giving your company a more personal face. Use social media to answer questions related to your products and services, solve customer problems, and monitor customer issues before they get out of hand. Use the feedback you obtain through social channels to enhance the customer experience, plan for the future, and revise policies.

And whether you like it or not, people discuss products and services online, both before and after they purchase them. They share the good, the bad, and the ugly; not privately, but out in the open for fellow customers and prospects to see. By being engaged and responsive, you can enhance your company’s image and build customer loyalty.  And if you build your loyal social media following before the crisis breaks, they’ll be much more likely to help out when you really need them – versus trying to rally people after the fact.

Recruiting Talent

Social media tools make it easier to target talent from various geographic regions and attract tech-savvy candidates. Use social media to mount and enhance employee referral programs and to attract talent that isn’t actively visiting employment boards but is actively using social networking.  Post jobs (try using Twitter hashtag #jobs) and search for talent on popular social media sites, but don’t forget the importance of personal networking using social media, too. Your former coworker might just refer you to a top-notch candidate, and they could be just a Facebook message away.

Other Departments Using Social Media

The R&D or merchandising department might want to jump on the social media bandwagon too, to listen to the conversation about products, packaging and pricing.  Social might have bubbled up from your search marketing department, or maybe IT – or they could be important partners in your social media efforts. Internally-focused departments like HR or training may want to use it for social media to motivate and engage with employees.

There is no “right” way to structure or deliver on social media.  Every company is doing it a bit differently, and you should feel confident to forge your own path, knowing that there are lots of good examples out there of how companies are setting up their social media organizations to meet their needs.

What’s working for you?  What are you struggling with? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Organizing Your Staff for Social Media

The-Case-for-Social-Media-Agencies

The Case for Social Media Agencies

The-Case-for-Social-Media-Agencies

Previously, I’ve written about how PR firms are missing some key skillsets that they need to win integrated social media business. The post generated a lot of great feedback, Tweets and Likes, and I think it’s because it really hit a nerve with a lot of agency folk – PR and otherwise.

So here on my own blog I’ll make the correlating argument that there is an opportunity now for pureplay social media agencies to really grow and thrive.  Of course, I’m completely biased, having spent nearly five years at award-winning social agency Converseon, and now as principal of my own social and digital marketing agency (I did work in PR for a year in between – so have some credibility on the PR side as well).  Please bear with me as I make the case and then tell me at the end whether you agree or not.

robot

New discipline, new agency

Social marketing is a new discipline within organizations, and it doesn’t fit within most traditional company structures. Aspects of social media cross into marketing, advertising, PR/communications, customer service and even R&D. And most of those departments have their own agencies.  When social media is on the table, there’s often a fight among departmental and agency stakeholders as to who gets the work – and often it’s the agency with the most clout among internal stakeholders, not necessarily the best skillset or even the best pitch.

I predict that within 18-24 months many corporations, particularly those that are consumer-focused, will have a new, cross-disciplinary department or group to manage social media (some already do). And many