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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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Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Do you know who Danny Kaye is?

Danny Kaye - Jack of All Trades

I think I can be appropriately curmudgeonly in saying that most kids today don’t know who Danny Kaye, the great 20th Century entertainer, is (was).

For those of you who are unaware, he was a huge star of his time, incredibly well-rounded, with a career that worked through stage, screen, television, records, and food. He died in 1987, after giving us the classic films such as “The Court Jester,” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “White Christmas,” as well as a variety show and a handful of special TV shows. Kaye was a classic comic, too, always pushing the envelope even in serious situations.

A huge part of Kaye’s appeal was his incredible well-roundedness. No matter the situation, he was able to bring something to it: a little soft-shoe, his lovely singing voice, his wide variety of foreign accents, or his in-depth knowledge of food (especially Asian cuisine).

Kaye was a real, old-fashioned entertainment jack of all trades.

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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

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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The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

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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.

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.

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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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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

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

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

 

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

We hear a lot about top digital brands and wonder what sets them apart. It’s not just a lot of luck. It’s not even offering a product or service that no one else sells. Instead, these brands earn this designation through hard work, creativity, and effective strategizing. According to digital agency 360i, there are 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands – and adhering to most, if not all, of these habits can set a brand far ahead of the pack.
The 7 Habits are:

  1. Being a Skilled Conversationalist: Top digital brands don’t just talk at their audiences. Instead, they are talented at creating and participating in conversation that leverages their content and messages for the building of lasting relationships.
  2. Being Authentic: Top brands identify truths relevant to their audiences and incorporate those truths into their content. As a result, they are able to inspire their audiences.
  3. Being Data Driven: Most brands understand the importance of collecting data, but do they know what to do with it once they have it? The top brands effectively use the data they collect for the optimization of their campaigns as well as to gain insight and inspiration for their efforts going forward.
  4. Being Discoverable: Even the most creative and inspiring of campaigns can fall flat if a brand is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Top digital brands learn where their customers are and position themselves to have a discoverable presence where their customers and prospects spend time online.
  5. Being Relevant: The conversation is currently changing in the digital arena. The brands that excel are those that stay relevant through effective navigation of current conversation.
  6. Being a Content Creator: Content is still king, but in an ever-changing market, brands must strategize and take creative approaches to producing and distributing the right type of content at the right time. Top digital brands do this exceedingly well.
  7. Being Constant: Top digital brands develop and steadfastly maintain core values while remaining constantly alert for new ideas and approaches.

Let’s look at two brands, one old and one new, which exemplify many of these 7 Habits.

Oreo: Reinventing a Classic Brand

Consider Oreo as an example of an oldie but goodie that has reinvented itself through social media. For example, Oreo incorporates fun, attention-grabbing memes and current events into its “Daily Twist” campaign. The real-time Super Bowl 2013 “Dunk in the Dark” campaign was another excellent example of its skill as well as its effective use of top-level marketers to make smart choices. Oreo is also discoverable, doing extremely well on Facebook, where it has over 35 million likes, and on Twitter, where it has over 283,000 followers. Further, its website does a fantastic job of engaging the brand’s audience by allowing its community to share Oreo moments.

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

Oreo’s best habits: Authentic, Data-Driven, Relevant, Content Creator

Warby Parker: Newcomer Built Digitally

We’ve seen how a venerable brand has reinvented itself digitally, so let’s also consider the relative newcomer, Warby Parker. This brand is not only newer but also an industry disruptor: they sell eyeglasses entirely online for one price point of $95.

Because of its only-online approach, this brand had to prove itself digitally and socially strong right from the very beginning. To this end, the brand provides its customer service socially via Facebook and Twitter. It also encourages engagement and draws attention by asking customers to share videos of themselves trying on Warby Parker glasses and then posting their videos on Facebook. Shoring up its efforts are buzz-generating events, Internet ads and online video campaigns.
7 Habits of Top Digital Brands
Its April Fools campaign is a good example of this brand’s skill. It offered customers doggy eyeglasses via a fake pet eyeglass vertical called Warby Barker. When customers added Fido’s eyeglass choice to their cart, they received an April Fools message! And the photos of doggies wearing stylish eyewear? Simply brilliant, and adorable.

Warby Parker’s best habits: Data-driven (they were born that way), Discoverable, Relevant, Content Creator

Top digital brands recognize how critical social and digital is: it’s the fabric of their companies. But they work very hard at capturing and keeping the attention of their audiences. You can’t go wrong if you strive to make the 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands the habits of your brand.


7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

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 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

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

Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your Marketing

Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your Marketing

Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your Marketing

Twitter is one of the big boys when it comes to social media marketing. If you’ve yet to begin using it for your business or don’t know how to use it well, this post is for you! The following articles will get you up to speed and help you use your Twitter account as an effective marketing tool.

The 2013 Twitter Marketing Guide

Maybe you’re new to Twitter. Maybe you’ve been using the social media site for years but only for personal connections. If you’re just now considering the social media platform for marketing purposes, this article can help. It provides everything from basic instructions for creating a Twitter profile and understanding Twitter lingo to tips for planning your strategy and building a following. Click here to learn the basics of using Twitter for marketing.

Five Ways to Use Twitter for Marketing That You Might Not Know About

Once you have the basics of Twitter marketing down, you may benefit from some additional ideas for using it for your business. This article provides information about ways to do the following:

  • Connect with mobile users via Twitter
  • Use search options to find relevant opportunities
  • Connect with journalists
  • Improve your search engine rankings

What else will you learn? You’ll also discover how to use your tweets in conjunction with Google Alerts to get search engine traffic and monitor what others are saying about your company. Read more about lesser-known ways to use Twitter.

Avoid These 9 Common Twitter Mistakes

The fact is that everyone makes mistakes. It’s all too easy to make a misstep here and a glaring error there. Fortunately, others have tripped and fallen before you, and you can learn from them. The author of this article, Timothy Carter, provides the details you need to avoid common problems, ranging from posting at the wrong times and sending vague tweets to being boring and messing up your privacy settings. For instance, something as simple as failing to follow other Twitter users is a mistake that may hold you back. Read more about common Twitter mistakes.

10 Lessons from the Top 25 Most Engaged Brands on Twitter

You can learn a lot from the successes of others. According to Mark Fidelman (writing for Forbes), engaging via Twitter requires companies to develop an emotional connection with their followers and effectively spread not their own message but an industry-specific one. Fidelman provides a list of 10 things companies of all sizes can learn from 25 of the most engaged brands on this social media platform. For example, telling stories, working with influencers, and driving emotion are among the top things you can do to better engage your audience. Read the reasons these top 25 brands do engagement so well.


Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your 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.

 

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_

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 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_

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

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:
Read more

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_

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.