,

Choosing a Social Media Platform For Your Business

There are countless social media websites aimed at reaching a wide variety of customers. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. can all be useful in a social media strategy aimed at engagement. But with so many options, which ones will be most effective for your organization? Here is a quick guide to the pros and cons of a few of the major social sites and how they can work for you.

Facebook: Facebook is the largest social media site on the internet and it continues to grow. With new features such as edgerank the news feed is becoming more specialized and thus, more relevant. Facebook allows users to interact with your content whether they like, comment or post, this will pop up in the news feed, increasing visibility and allowing others to discover your organization too.

Pros

  • volume of users and posts

  • people check Facebook a lot, it is the most well known social platform

  • PPC ads available

Cons

  • time commitment

  • consistent posting is necessary

  • slower growth generally

Twitter: This fairly new social platform is transforming how businesses and users interact with one another. With only 140 characters, a tweet must get to the gist of it and fly. Twitter’s concise content may be easier to digest for users and therefore easier to interact with as well.

Pros

  • short and sweet

  • sent directly to followers

  • huge population that continues to grow

Cons

  • tweets can get lost in the feed

  • not great for posting photos (only links out to where the image is online)

  • 140 characters is confining

G+: Google’s attempt at social media created a site with a wide range of usability. From Hangouts to posted content to circles, G+ allows users to interact on a more personal level with their audience and creating lasting impressions.

Pros

  • Hangouts allow face to face interactions, building relationships and trust

  • circles segment your audience for better content management and targeting

  • a great place to connect with early adopters and the tech savvy

  • makes your business more searchable online

Cons

  • only one admin per page, created from a Google account

  • still functions on the fringe of social media

  • mobile functionality is not great

Pinterest: Photos and videos are fast becoming the key to engagement on social media which is why Pinterest is seeing so much success. Simple images linked out to more content allows users to browse without much thought until a photo catches their eye. By “pinning” a photo they can then save the link and find the information, recipe or design the next time they need it.

Pros

  • women love Pinterest, so it is a great place to reach them (between 85-97% of users are women)

  • visual appeal can have huge pull

  • very easy to create an attractive product or service pin to gain visibility

Cons

  • not the place to reach men

  • no way to control who sees your pin, only when a pin goes viral does it show up on a larger number of subject boards

  • some products are not visually appealing, this would make pinning less effective

Reddit: This new social platform hosts user generated content under hundreds of sub-reddit categories. The simple interface means greater usability and less clutter to sift through when searching for content.

Pros

  • categorization allows posts to be more targeted

  • ease of use

  • larger focus on fringe news and products as opposed to more mainstream

Cons

  • if a post is not voted up enough is it quickly buried

  • little monitoring, lots of spam-y/irrelevant content on various sub-reddits

  • almost to simple, boring to look at

YouTube: Facebook may have over 1 billion users total but YouTube boasts 1 billion individual users each month and these users are watching 6 billion hours of video on the site. Those numbers alone should tell you the opportunities in social video sharing. Like Pinterest, YouTube provides the visual aids to enhance any users experience and allows users to share this with their favorite social platform too.

Pros

  • visual is engaging

  • customizeable business channels and pages for content aggregation

  • ad opportunities and promoted videos

Cons

  • quality variance in videos (professional to camera phone)

  • suggested videos may not be applicable, easy to get lost

  • advertosing overlap is a possibilty ( competitors ads will show up with your content or as a suggestion on the right side bar)

Now that you have a little bit of information about each of these paltforms it is time to investigate and decide what combination will be best for your organization. Social media has the potential to grow your business exponentially. By entering the game on the right platforms with a strategy, you are one step closer to maximizing its potential. Just make sure that you are strategic in how you select and post content. Read more about this in our blog post Social Media is Like a Loaded Gun.

Already using social media sites? What made you choose the platforms you are on now? Do you use a site we did not list above? Why? As always, leave your comments below, we want to hear from you!

,

3 Easy Ways to Master Your Facebook Presence

The latest stats on Facebook are staggering: more than 500 million active members and 500,000 interactive applications. The site says members are spending over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

For business owners, it’s clear you need some type of presence on the world’s number one social networking site.  However, once you sign up, what’s the next step?

First, you should create a Facebook “like” page (formerly called “fan” pages). It’s fairly simple. Just create your page, edit your information, and push it live.  The real challenge with your page is to get people joining, and coming back for more.  I’ve had an Amber Mac Like Page for many months, but it wasn’t until this year that I truly understood how to make the most of my presence there.

Early this spring I sat down with a friend on Facebook’s strategy team.  I asked him to spend an hour with me to demystify the page experience, and give me some insider tips for Facebook success.  I learned a lot within these sixty minutes that changed the way that I approach my own Facebook Page. Here’s a summary what other businesses need to start doing now.

1.  Fill the wall.

Many companies spend time prettying up their pages, diving into the Info, Photos, and Notes tabs, but the truth is that very few people actually venture out to spend time on your page and within these tabs.  In fact, approximately 90 percent of people communicating with your Facebook page are doing so from their own personal news feeds.  In other words, only 10 percent of people are leaving the comfort of their Facebook home pages to check out your presence.

Since most users are interacting with you via your updates, focus your Facebook strategy on writing compelling messages on your Wall.  Facebook pushes these status notes to your users’ feeds (unlike other tab updates, which simply sit in one place).  Ideally, you want to write something that encourages your friends to comment, like, or share your messages.  This is how your Facebook page will become more popular.

2. Use rich media.

While writing compelling messages is key to getting your feed into the hearts and minds of your online community, a picture is worth a thousand clicks.  You don’t need to post a professional picture every time, but regularly attaching cellphone photos to your messages and trying to make your posts more visual is a must.  Aside from photos, videos are also heating up on Facebook.  The site is now one of the top five video viewing destinations online, so make it a habit of attaching YouTube videos to your messages to get more traction.

3.  Get inside Insights.

Facebook page owners can get free analytics with Insights, a tool that sits within your account. This information is an important part of your Facebook success since it will help you to understand who is using your page which includes demographic info such as gender and age (allowing you to post appropriate messages).

Within this area you can also get details on how much people are interacting with your content in order to learn what type of content is getting the most clicks.  One note: many users have found that they first need to authenticate their Facebook page before accessing Insights.

In addition to these three recommendations, ensure that you update your Facebook page with at least one new piece of content every weekday.  While you want to make sure that you keep pushing out interesting updates, don’t forget the Cardinal Rules of online success: Share information from your community and not just information about what you are doing.  In other words, visit the online profiles of your Facebook friends and make sure to “like,” comment on, and spread interesting posts from them.  Social media is, after all, a two-way street.

Source: Open Forum

,

25 Ways to Engage Contacts in Social Media

What is it? What is it good for? Engagement.

One of the primary selling points of social media is the concept of engaging a potential customer or partner in your product or service. So how do you accomplish engagement on a personal level?

25 Ways to Engage a Potential Customer Using Social Media

1. Start a blog. This seems like an obvious one. This should be one of the first things you think about doing when contemplating using social media as a marketing tool. There should always be a hub where your contacts can interact. The so called “hub.” WordPress is a great tool to start blogging. Get on it!

2. Join Foursquare and Use it during the business day. Foursquare is a service that allows you to update your location to the people following you on a regular basis. I do not recommend using this tool after business hours (could turn a little creepy) but it can help your contacts get an idea of what you do on a daily basis. Even if you are just sitting in your office for most of the day.

3. Join LinkedIN and recommend your partners. Most of us are already using LinkedIN (if you are not click thislink for great information on LinkedIN). When you start to recommend the people you love working with it will help spread the goodwill that your business partners deserve. What happens you spread goodwill? Ever heard of pay-it-forward?

4 and 5. Start an RSS Reader and Find 5 Blogs to Follow. It is important that you use an RSS Reader to help with the organization of the blogs you read. For more information on starting and maintaining an RSS Feed check out this link. By using a Technorati or Google BlogSearch you can find 5 blogs that are industry “blog leaders” in your dedicated profession. By following and commenting on the blogs you will start to engage other readers.

6. Place a Poll on Your Blog or Website. There are plenty of tools available for polling on your website or blog. Wp-polls is a great resource if you are connected with wordpress. Ask a question to your audience. How can I make my content better? What are you wanting to read or learn about? This will help in engaging your more loyal readers and followers. Formstack also gives you the ability to create forms and polls for easy content access and building.

7. Ask a Loyal Reader  to Guest Post. There is value in having your loyal readers do a guest post for your blog. They will feed your link to their subscribers and it also gives them a pride in ownership of your blog. This allows for the strengthening of a relationship in the long run.

8. Identify Your Strategy. This should have been number one because it is the more important thing you could be doing before online marketing. If you do not have a strategy in place to lead the charge into social media you will be at a lost when it becomes overwhelming. A strategy allows you to measure success points in your social media journey. This only helps when it comes to YOU engaging THEM.

9. Focus. Really Focus on Your About Page. What is the second most read page on a blog? The about page. People want to know who they are communicating with. The last thing you need to do (and I am also guilty of this on my personal blog KyleLacy.com) is to create a boring about page. Spice it up. Add some details that will create the best about page you could possibly want! Also.. enable comments on your about page. Allow people to comment on yours likes and dislikes.

10. Use Twitter on a Daily Basis. Now this might be a little overwhelming to the young at heart in social media but Twitter is fast becoming the ideal means of online communication. For a detailed explaination of Twitter check outDiTii.com’s video.

11. Add Your Social Media Information to Your Business Card. I have written a ton about this in previous posts. If you want to truly engage with the people you meet offline… add your social media sites to your business card. I have my LinkedIN, Twitter, and Blog URLs on my business card.

12. Be open to collaboration. You may have run your small-to-mid sized business for years by yourself but social media is built on the art of collaboration. People will be giving their opinions on a daily basis and it is in your best interest to take those opinions with stride. Collaborate and join in on discussions surrounding ideas related to your industry and your life. Collaborate. Learn. Listen.

13. Start a Facebook Page and Add in Your Family Life. Facebook is an extremely personal tool that can be used to connect with individuals on an emotional basis using pictures. You have to be open in sharing some of your family life with the outside world. There is a reason why PR companies have used the idea of “family man” to save many tarnished CEOs. Add pictures of your family, your dog, your vacation. People will connect. (New to Facebook. Check out this link on getting started as a company).

14. Pick 4 Social Sites and Maximize. You will become anti-social if you become overwhelmed with the multitude of different social media sites in which you are a member. We teach a 4-touchpoint theory of choosing four social media sites to spend your time. With a limited amount of time you will find that 4 sites benefits you in two main ways:

1. You will have more brain “bandwidth” to communicate on a deeper level.

2. The same people will pretty much be on all the sites you choose. (I say this loosely)

15. When someone comments on your blog email them a thank you. I learned this from the famous Gary Vaynerchuk. If someone is joining into the conversation on your blog and adding content make sure you thank them for your support. The people who show a vested interest are key to growing your readership. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have time to email people the moment they comment. It sometimes takes me weeks before I send a follow up email.

16. Write About Personal Experience. We talk a lot about this. Write about the way you see life. Write about the way you experience your business on a daily basis. TAlk about how you are helping people. Talk about how you are solving the problems on a daily basis. Use Twitter. Use Facebook. Tell stories on your blog. People engage in stories. They connect with stories.

17. Try to Keep Yourself Within 450 Words or Less on Your Blog. It is important to keep blog posts concise and to the point. If you have trouble writing this will help you in the long run. As you can tell by the post you are currently reading, it is not essential that you keep it to 450 words. If you have advice and knowledge to send out to the masses.. . please do so. If you keep blog posts short it helps to keep readers and that is the goal.

18. Remember Quality vs Quantity. Quality is always better than Quantity. I have always said that 100 extremely engage readers are infinitely better than 4000 quasi engaged readers. Quality allows you to truly form relationships with the people you are dealing with on a daily basis. You can build your base anyway you like but make sure you always come back to quality over quantity.

19. Monitor the Conversation around Your Brand both Personal and Professional. For more on this read:25 Tools and Tips to Following Your Brand Online. Why is it important to follow your brand online? You need to be involved in all the conversations surrounding your product, service, or YOU.

20. DO NOT HARD SELL! I am going to repeat this again: Do Not Hard Sell. This means you are not sharing about sales and detail after detail about your company. It means you are concentrating on listening to the people who are investing in your writing and social media prescence. Nobody cares about your 50% sale. They care about who will be greeting them at the door of your store or place of business. Personality rules and if you want to act like a used-car sales man… go work at one.

21. Handwritten Notes Go Places. If you have an individual refer you business through the online environment.. we encourage people to use the old method and handwrite a note to that person. You would be surprised how far a handwritten note will get you!

22. Setup Columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for Use in Twitter. In order to follow the conversation surrounding your industry, clients, competitors, and your business… the tools provided through Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to manage and organize tweets based on keywords or search functionality. Follow up to 3 columns and get involved in the conversation!

23. Use Rapportive to Connect with Your Email Database. Rapportive is a service that gives you the ability to connect with different contacts in your Gmail Inbox. A profile picture will appear to the side of the email and give you different information facts about the sender of the email. For more information on Rapportive read the LifeHacker post on the tool.

24. Try to Answer All Comments on Your Blog. It can be a daunting task. I felt guilty typing out this step because I am extremely bad at replying to comments. In all reality, the people you care about most…. should be the people who comment on your blog.

25. Use Rapleaf to Produce Segmentation Reporting for Your Email Database. Rapleaf is a reporting company who helps you better understand who your customers are and their social personalities. This service can give you some SWEET data on user engagement and cross platform marketing.

Source: kylelacy.com

, ,

Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management Toolkit

Listening to real time conversations for opportunities, leads, and reputation management is now a standard marketing item on the to-do list.

While there are services such asRadian6Trackur and Jive Software (Filtrbox) that provide this kind of tracking for a fee, there are a number of tools that any do-it-yourselfer can employ to capture much of what’s being said about their brands, people, products, and industries in real time:

1.  Google Alerts

This one is certainly not new, but I still find people who don’t tap into it. Google Alerts allows you to set up as many custom searches as you like and have Google alert you via email or RSS when any mentions of those search terms hits their radar. Not 100 percent foolproof, but very good.

2.  Google Reader
Google Reader is an RSS reader, which means you can use it to subscribe, capture, read and display anything that produces an RSS feed. Most people use it to sort and read blogs, but anything with an RSS feed will show up here, so you can filter a great deal of content, including tags in bookmarking sites such as Delicious. Every customer and competitor blog feed should be in here.

3.  MyReviews Page

Rating and review sites such as Google Places and Yelp have become essential marketing tools. Monitoring reviews is a big part of managing and building reputation on these sites. MyReviewsPage alerts you when a new review shows up on many of the more popular review sites.

4.  Backtype
Backtype primarily focuses on blog comment streams and is a handy way to track this important content source.

5.  Boardreader
Bulletin boards and forums have lost a lot of their buzz due to social networking sites, but many industries still have very strong and active ones. Boardreader is your alert tool for the most popular bulletin board and forum sites.

6.  Social Mention
Social Mention is a real time search engine and important part of the mix because it not only catches things that others miss, it offers a wide variety of content types such as images, video and audio mentions, as well as giving some data about the influence and sentiment of the mentions.

7.  Netvibes
Netvibes isn’t a tracking or listening tool, but it’s a nice way to manage viewing all of the data you collect. Netvibes allows you to create a custom dashboard of RSS feeds and other elements and can be a great way for you to bring all of the content created by the tools above into one handy viewing station.

Source: Open Forum

,

5 Social Media Tips for Small Business

A recent study by Employers indicates that over half of small businesses believe in social media as an important marketing tool.  Yet, only 16% of those polled use their social media accounts to communicate directly with customers.  So, what are they actually doing with social media?  The average small business uses it to promote, much in the same way they use ads, direct mail and other forms of traditional marketing.

Social media for business promotion is fine.  But, the real leverage comes through engagement with people who are interested in you.  Your fans and followers are the real catalyst for your success with social media, so keeping in touch with them is critical.

Why?  Social media, much like content marketing, is all about building customer relationships.  In fact, businesses can take their cue from the origins of social media as a primarily “social” tool.  Sites such as Twitter and Facebook were really designed to help people communicate with each other, share resources and stay in touch.  Businesses can do the exact same thing with their customers, using the same sites.

Using social media sites to engage with current and potential customers takes a commitment of time. However, the tools are already built in, so you can simply think of your company account as another way to connect with your target market, just as you would with friends, colleagues and relatives.  Here are 5 tips for building the relationships that lead to sales:

1. Listen- There are a lot of conversations going on out there.  Some of them may be about your company, your industry or other topics that affect you.  Take the time to listen to what is being said before deciding how to respond or add to it.  You’ll learn more about what is important to your target market when you put your ear to the ground.

2. Participate- By becoming part of these conversations, you show that you’re interested in what people have to say.  This is also your opportunity to show how much you know about your topic, which helps to establish your authority.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, encourage debate and even stir up a little controversy now and then.  It gets people talking and gives you more information you can use to connect with them.

3. Add value- Your comments should always add something of value to the conversation.  If you’re too self-promoting or don’t add any useful information, both you and your company will lose credibility.  Think of your efforts as conversation rather than as a push for sales.

4. Evaluate your goals- At some point, preferably at the beginning but also along the way, you should think about your objectives.  What you trying to achieve with your social media efforts?  Some businesses want to increase brand awareness, others are more interested in what their competitors are up to.  Honing in on your primary goals will save you time and energy in the long run.

5. Look at the big picture- Think of social media as a community rather than a place to sell your products and services.   People on these sites, just like the Internet in general, are not necessarily looking to buy something.  Most of the time, they want information they can use, and they want to connect with the sources of that information.  Make sure your efforts keep this in mind.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re here to talk to people, invite them to join you, offer them your expertise, etc.  Design each individual post to make an overall impression that, over time, reflects your business objectives.

So, if you’re thinking about using social media to promote your business, or already are, remember to put some time into customer engagement!  It’s the best way to get those friends and followers to convert into customers.

Source: Kyle Lacy