What is social media?
Social media refers to various platforms that are available on the Internet, which provide users the chance to create their profiles and share and promote content. These social media platforms are all designed to help people and companies establish a social presence and let others know about their products and services.
The popularity of social media, as a marketing tool, rose in the last decade as more and more companies realized its true potential and began using it to their advantage. They understood that it is possible for them to reach out to millions of people, worldwide, and increase their customer base by several folds.
Social media is now part of every company’s marketing strategy. Right from a small store in Japan to a multi-million dollar company in the US, everybody is using the power of the Internet to get noticed and to improve their product’s sales.
Through the course of this blog, you will understand the real use of social media in terms of your marketing strategy and why it is extremely important for you to have a strong marketing plan in place in order to promote your products and services.
Let us now look at why social media is useful.
Understanding how social media marketing works
Many people, particularly small businesses, and upcoming businesses seem to shy away from social media marketing. The reason being that it social media marketing is such a vast area and it is really difficult to know where they can start from, the area that should be targeted by them and their potential audience.
In order to become successful making use of social media marketing you really need to get yourself better acquainted with the complex hierarchy that exists and the workings of these platforms.
Like it is the case with any online marketing strategy, even in the case of social media marketing, it will all have to start with you and your website.
Your website will act as the foundation, the base on which you can start building your campaign. Blogs have been gaining a lot of publicity, if your website has one then that’s good and if it doesn’t then perhaps it’s time that you have added one.
Blogs will enable you to provide regular streams of content that will help you grab and then hold on to the attention of your audience.
In order to increase the number of people who are subscribing to your website, increase the number of followers you have got on any social media platforms and for also giving your business a sound online presence, a blog will really come in handy.
You probably would have come across the term RSS feeds and you might have even used them. If you haven’t done so, then you probably should. RSS stands for Really Short Simple Syndication. RSS is really a great tool that can help you sort your content out in a way that provides you with the option of personalization.
The benefit of personalization is that you can sort your content according to different sectors and areas of interest of your audience.
People can always subscribe to your website and they can always agree to receive the RSS feed that will let them view the content as well as let them know of any updates. When you can personalize the information available you can filter it depending upon the requirements of your target audience.
Then there is the option of blog marking as well as social sharing. This can be thought of as the process that lets you tag people and also keys you share certain elements of the content you have got on various social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ or even on social bookmark sites such as Delicious, Digg or even StumbleUpon.
If you really want this to work, then you will have to ensure that the content that you are wanting to post is of high quality and is relevant to the audience.
It really won’t work if you are just sharing silly memes or GIFs. If your audience doesn’t think the content that you are posting is relevant then it is highly likely that they will stop following you.
Social search tools will also be really helpful. Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, and even Bing Places are some of the popular directories that are available online and you can get yourself listed on these sites. So that when anyone is searching for your name then your listed address would come up on the search.
This will help you draw more attention to yourself and will help you in strengthening your online presence which is really crucial for your business. Social search tools are highly recommended by me and this will help in acting as a catalyst for improving the publicity for your business.
The top social media platforms to make use of
There are very few people who wouldn’t have heard of Facebook or Twitter, but these aren’t your only options there are a variety of social media platforms that you can make use of. If you can make use of it in the right way then your marketing campaign will be successful.
Why is social media used for marketing?
As you know, social media holds a lot of potentials and will help in increasing your customer base. You will see how easy it is for you to reach out to different customers that are based all over the world. Let us now look at some of its real uses to companies.
The first and most important use is the reach that this platform provides to its users. You will see that it is possible for you to reach out to more people just by making your presence felt on these sites. When you add one person, you will automatically end up adding another 10.
This is not possible when you advertise in the traditional way. You will hardly be able to reach a few hundred there whereas here, you can easily reach millions just by clicking a few buttons and uploading pictures of your products and services.
Your brand recognition will grow by leaps and bounds. Imagine having a small shop on a remote island and trying to reach out to the world. It will seem like a herculean task. But now, you can easily reach out and have our brand successfully recognized by million just by setting up an account on a social media platform.
It is like getting to set up free billboards on every street in the world. Your brand is sure to be recognized by millions around the world and you will see that it is possible for you to become a global image by establishing your presence on social media.
The costs of marketing can be considerably reduced when you take up online marketing. When you market in the traditional way, you end up spending a lot of money.
Right from paying the advertising company to paying for the different promotional campaigns, there are many costs that will keep accumulating. You have to set up a big fund for it and only then will you be able to afford the traditional method of marketing.
However, with social media, all of that can be reduced to a bare minimum. You will see that it is possible for you to promote your products and services with a very small to no budget at all! Imagine the kind of money you can save on just by adopting social media for your marketing needs.
Through social media platforms, you can interact with many people including your customers and potential business partners. You can bring everyone under the same roof and allow them to interact with each other.
You will see that it is easy for you to answer any queries that these people have towards your company, products or services and make it an interactive session. This type of setting will go a long way in helping you establish a good connection with your customer base.
Through social media, you can easily convert people into your customers. Now say for example 500 visit your page on a daily basis. Out of those, maybe 200 are your existing customers and the rest are new people.
If even half of them, meaning 150 people convert into customers then you will now have 200+150 customers for your products. That is a great number for you to work with, especially when you are just starting out. That number will only grow over time and before you know it, you will have a big audience base following you.
You can establish customer loyalty by being online. You can be in touch with the best customers and get them to be your repeat customers. Social media helps in establishing a strong customer base and also strengthen your hold over them.
Remember that your current customers are extremely valuable as they are who will bring new customers and also give you a consistent business. So it is extremely important for you to hold on to your loyal customers and get them to help increase your business.
You can make use of SEO when you set up an online account. SEO stands for search engine optimization, which will help you get noticed. You can use it to your advantage and turn up as the first search result online. That will ensure that your page gets visited more often, which will mean more customers for your business.
These form just some of the benefits of using social media for marketing but are not limited to just these. As and when you start using social media you will be acquainted with the other benefits. Following are the likely benefits and the reasons why you should start making use of social media marketing right now.
Helps in improving your brand authority:
You shouldn’t forget the basic of marketing just because you are making use of social media. You will have to keep interacting with your customers on a regular basis and when you do this it shows good faith towards not just your existing customers but your potential customers as well.
With the advent of technology people, these days like to brag or even criticize a particular service or product on various social media platforms.
And when they do happen to post about a particular brand online, they are in fact introducing this brand to several others in an indirect manner and this expands your audience base.
As the number of people who are talking about your brand starts to increase then the publicity of your brand will increase too and it will be perceived as being more valuable.
You can always tie up with individuals who are quite popular on social networking sites for the promotion of your product. This will help in increasing the publicity of your product manifold.
The inbound traffic increases:
Your inbound traffic is generally restricted only to your existing customers and all those users who would have searched for the keywords that currently work for your product or brand.
But social media can really help you turn things around. Every profile that you manage to add on social media will help you create a pub that will directly lead to your website and you every piece of content that you have managed to acquire I’d an opportunity for attracting new customers.
When the quality of the content that you make use of or publish on social media strata improving then it will also help in increasing the chance of generating conversions will also improve.
Reduction in marketing costs:
According to an online report published by Hubpost, approximately 84% of all the marketers had to put in just around six hours every week and they had managed to generate a noticeable increase in their web traffic.
Six hours is comparatively a very small price to pay for the more than proportional increase in your brand recognition.
A little bit of effort can help you reap the benefits of social media marketing. Even if you are able to spend maybe an hour every day for developing your content as well as designing the strategy for marketing, you will be able to see results in no time.
The option of paid advertising can always be opted for, but whether or not you want to make use of it solely depends upon your goals.
You needn’t worry about started out small, it needn’t be on a large scale and you needn’t exceed your predefined budget. Once you have acquired an understanding of how social media marketing works, you can slowly start increasing your budget according to your needs and you will definitely be able to improve your conversion rate.
Better search engine rankings as well:
SEO can be thought of as one of the best and simplest manner in which you will be able to capture traffic that is relevant to your content and then direct such traffic towards your website.
The requirements of this mode keep on changing constantly. It is not just about regularly updated the content on your blog, the optimization of the titles used and the distribution of such links that all lead back to your website.
Most of the search engines tend to make use of social media presence for calculating their rankings and most of the established brands also tend to make use of social media in one form of the other.
Just being active on social media is sufficient to send a signal of credibility to the search engines regarding your brand. To put it in a nutshell, if you really want your brand rankings to go up then you will need to have a really strong presence on various social networking platforms.
Better customer experience:
Social marketing is a channel of communication that really isn’t much different from the traditional channels of communication such as phone calls or even emails.
Every interaction that you might have with a customer on social media should be considered as an opportunity for you to promote your brand and you can do this by projecting a good customer service experience and it also facilitates in helping you to enrich the existing customer relationship.
If at all a situation arises wherein a customer has taken to Twitter to express their grievance about any particular product then you should be able to take an immediate action and rectify the problem as well as apologize to them in the same public forum. But not all of your experiences are going to be negative.
If any customer expresses their satisfaction and happiness with your product then you can express your gratitude to them and you can also provide them with a list of additional products that you would recommend.
You should make use of social media for improving personal communication with your customers thereby providing them with a personalized experience.
Improvement in customer insights:
Social media can prove to be really helpful because it also provides you with an opportunity to understand how the customers behave and this can be done through something that is referred to as social listening.
You can do this by opting to monitor the comments that your customers might post; this would give you an insight into their personality and what they think of your business.
Another thing you can do is opting to segment the syndicated content and this will let you understand the content that has been able to generate the most interest and according to this, you will be able to post further related content.
Not just this but you can also measure your rate of conversion depending upon the different promotions that you managed to post on different social networking platforms.
Being able to determine the most used social media by your customers will let you understand the media channel that you should actually make use of. You can really make a move to improve your revenue if you know what exactly your customer wants.
The above-mentioned are the benefits that you can derive by making use of social media marketing. Bet if you really aren’t fully convinced even now about making use of it; then here are some other things that you should really consider before writing it off.
Your competitors are already involved:
You need to understand that your competitors might already be engaged on various social networking platforms and they are making the most of social media. So, you really wouldn’t want to miss out on any social media traffic.
You should also realize that since your competitors are already involved in social media, your potential conversions are being poached by them.
You should also get going and not remain like an idle bystander anymore while your competitors are enjoying all the benefits of social media marketing. Leveling your playing field must be reason enough for you to give social media marketing a whirl.
The sooner the better:
The foundation on which social media marketing is based is relationship building and you can always do this by trying to expand your followers. This will help you attract more and more customers. The sooner you start the greater will be the number of the audience whom you can attract.
Needn’t worry about potential losses:
If you really think about it, then you will realize that there really won’t be any losses that you will be incurring. The amount of time and money that you will be spending will be an insignificant fragment when compared to the potential profits that you can make. You don’t necessarily have much to lose by making use of this but you do have a lot to gain.
All you need to do is put in a few hours of work and spend a couple of hundred dollars for getting started. This is all the investment that you need to make and you will definitely be able to reap way more than you will have to invest.
You really shouldn’t be waiting any longer and should get started as soon as you can. The more you wait the higher are your chances of losing out on potential business. Social media marketing can really come in handy and help you attract a lot of customers and it can also help in improving your conversion rate.
So, all you need to do is get started. Take the first step and jump onto the bandwagon, because whatever the cynics might say, social media marketing is here to stay.
Getting Started with Social Media
It is important that you get started with social media by doing all the right things. In this blog; we will look at the different steps that you must adapt to start with social media on the right foot.
The very first thing to do is conduct a timely research on the topic. You have to seek information on the topic of social media marketing and remain as educated and informed about it as possible.
This blog will act as your one true guide and give you enough information on the topic. You will be able to start with your online account by the time you are done reading this blog.
But you must also turn to online sites for information and other blogs from good publications. As long as the information is genuine, it will help you in a big way, and assist in getting started.
The next step is to understand the different features of each of the social media platforms. Each one will have a different feature to offer which you must understand in order to pick it.
You will see that it will be an easy process for you to pick the right platform once you understand what each of them has on offer for you. We will look at it in detail in future blogs of this blog and it will help you make your choice.
Choosing a platform
The next step is to choose the best platform that you can use to set up your online presence. It is a good idea to pick all, as that will help you connect with a larger audience.
There are four main types of social media platforms namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and all of these will help you in their individual way. But if you wish to dominate in just anyone then you must pick the best one. That, you will be able to do, only after you go through all the features of these platforms!
The next step of the process is to set up your social media platform. You have to work on your profile, your display picture, upload pictures of your products, write descriptions etc. All of these will help you set up the best profile for your products and services and help your audience connect with your brand.
You have to take your time when you indulge in this step. Don’t be in a hurry to set it up and be done with it. Regard this as one of the most important steps of the process and pay keen attention to all the small details of the step.
The next step is to understand who your target audience is. You have to cater to them if you wish to increase your sales. You have to make the effort to find out who your target audience is.
It can be just a few or many depending on how many products and services you have on offer at your company. Your target audience should be grouped in certain groups so that it is easy for you to cater to them individually.
The next step is to have your promotional ideas in place. These ideas will help you reach out to a lot of people and get them to like your products and services. You have to think up unique things that are not what most of the other companies are adopting. Try to keep it simple yet intriguing.
Everything should be appealing and capture your customers’ imagination. With time, your promotions will start getting better and your audience will start buying more and more of your products. You have to learn to backlink all your products with your website so that people can visit the website and buy the products.
The next step is market research. You have to conduct timely research on your products and services and how they are perceived by your audience. You have to see if they like your promotional activities and if it is getting across the desired message.
You should ask them questions and get them to answer them to the best of their knowledge about your products and services. Once they give you the feedback you can make the changes in your marketing strategies and satisfy your customers’ needs.
It is always important for you to time your entry into the market and also your promotions. You should see when it is a good time for you to promote a certain type of product.
You have to look at when your competition releases a product and time yours accordingly. In fact, you should promote it well in advance and release it slightly before they release theirs.
The next step is for you to set goals for yourself. Ensure that they are reasonable and gettable goals that you can easily attain. Try to set a new goal each time a previous one is attained. You have to write down your goals and tick them off one by one.
These form the different steps that you must follow when you wish to set up a social media presence. These have been mentioned in a stepwise manner and you must follow the same if you wish to see quick results. But if you have a plan of your own in mind then you can follow it by using this as a guideline.
General Tips on Using Social Media for Marketing
Here are a few general tips on the subject for you to follow.
You have to establish a direct line of control over your customers if you wish to keep them interested in you for a long time. You have sent and receive emails and keep track of what they are up to on their social media websites.
It should go beyond mere birthday wishes and you should make the effort to congratulate them for their various achievements in life.
The 80/20 analysis
The 80/20 analysis is one where you perform a statistical analysis to see what is working well for you and what is not. For this, you should start by looking at the numbers. The numbers here refer to the number of followers that you have for your company on each of your social networking sites.
Write down the numbers individually next to the names of the sites and then total all to see the final number.
Now divide each of the numbers individually with the final number to see what they put out. The one that puts out the lowest number here is your best site. That is the site you have to pursue if you wish to make the most of your marketing strategies.
It is important for you to organize certain promotional strategies and events to bring together your existing customers and also educate new ones about it. These events should aim at increasing the reach of your social media strategies.
The event should be organized at a venue that is close to a majority of your loyal customers. You have to invite them well in advance and tell them what to expect at the event. You can organize food and drink as well.
There, you have to ask them to educate their friends and family members about your social media strategies. You have to inform them about any upcoming deals and schemes that will interest them.
Before they leave, you should ask them to leave behind a feedback asking about their opinion and also if they will be interested in attending any more such events.
Social media only offers
You have to offer your customers a social media specific offer. This means that you give them the chance to make the most of their social media presence and be thankful for it.
You can give them social media only discounts or social media only giveaways. Just ensure that it is a big amount so that they remain motivated to keep buying from you.
You can also offer them combined benefits by tying up with another company. Those that like your Facebook page or retweet one of your tweets can be given a discount coupon for another brand. This will help you expand your customer base in a big way.
Apart from the four different social media sites that were mentioned in this blog, there are some others like linked in and Google+ that you should exploit and use to your advantage.
The more presence that you have on the Internet, the bigger your audience will get. So try to sign up with all the different platforms and use all of them to your company’s advantage.
The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Marketing
In this blog, we will look at the different dos and don’ts of social media in this blog.
Do's of social media marketing
The first does of any social media-marketing scheme is repurposing the content. This will ensure that you save on both time and effort. You must know what to repurpose and how you can use it again.
Go through all the content that you have used before and if it is possible for you to repurpose and use it. You have to modify it in a way that makes it look like brand new content and then uses it to your advantage. But avoid simply copying and pasting as that will not work well for you.
You have to know to use SEO to your advantage. You need to look into the different aspects of it and know how to be discovered by many people. You have to know how to use the keywords, Metadata, Meta description, the different headlines etc. All of these will count when you wish to reach out to a large audience.
If you are not able to do this on your own then you can also take the help of a friend or expert in the field who can do it for you. Don’t take this step lightly as it will be extremely important for you to be noticed by people if you wish to increase your sales.
You have to have customer involvement if you wish to become a popular brand. You have to get them to promote your brand and make them your brand ambassador. You can promote your products by using their pictures and get them to advertise for you.
Your other customers will also be quite impressed with your ways and start to contribute towards it. You have to conduct competitions in order to get the customers to get involved in your business and visit your pages on a regular basis.
Back up plans
You have to always have a backup plan in place. In case something goes wrong, you will have a second plan in place that will spring into action. You should always remain calm and composed no matter how bad a situation goes.
Maybe your promotional scheme will completely flop or a certain section will take offense to it and make you take it down. All of this will impact your promotional strategy negatively. So, you have to be prepared for the worst and have a plan in place that will allow you to quickly take action and save the day.
Remember to always be unique. Don’t make the mistake of copying someone or trying to look like something else. You have to adopt a promotional strategy that is unique to you and use it to your advantage. You will see that it is working in your favor and helping you avail many customers.
You will also see that you have unique customers and not the same repeat ones. You have to try and re-invent yourself from time to time and give your audience something new to experience.
If you do all of these then rest assured, your company would do well in the social media marketing field.
Don’ts of social media marketing
Do too much
It is extremely important for you to know where to draw the line. You have to know when and where to stop when it comes to interacting with your audience and getting involved in their life. You cannot do too much and start stalking them or start romancing them.
That is not part of your plan and should not be pursued. You have to try and remain as professional as possible and put your promotional ambitions ahead of everything else. You will see that it is possible for you to connect with your audience in a better way if you keep it professional.
Not tap into potential
You have to exploit all the potential that your social media platform offers you. Explore all of its features and make sure that you are using everything to your advantage. Many times, we will either be less informed or too lazy to exploit a certain feature.
That has to be sorted out first and only then can you make the most of what the social media has on offer to you. Take the help of a programmer if you are not sure of how everything can be used.
Repeat the same
Do not make the mistake of repeating the same content on all your different platforms. You have to keep the same tone but present the products in a different way.
You have to bear in mind the type of group that exists on the particular platform. You must change the layout of the promotion, the overlook, and feel of the presentation etc. All of it will go a long way in helping your audience remain interested.
Not understand needs
You have to understand all your customers’ needs and cater to them individually. There is a difference between pretending like you care about them and really caring for them. You have to take a keen interest in understanding what they want and whether or not they are satisfied with what you have on offer for them.
If they are voicing their opinion then encourage them and do, as they want. You have to employ someone to answer all the questions that these people post. Answering them will help you connect with the audience better.
You have to update your account from time to time. Again, employ someone who will do it for you. You have to choose someone who is in sync with your thinking and know exactly what to say. You should keep your audience up to date with what you have on offer for them.
Try to keep it interesting and intriguing so that your audience is forced to look at what you are promoting.
These form the different don’ts of social media marketing that you need to bear in mind if you wish to make the most of it.
Social Media Marketing Success Stories
Social media marketing has managed to take the world by storm. Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are still the go-to social media platforms for most of the digital marketers today.
But with the arrival of an increasing number of social networking applications, the digital marketers have an opportunity to look for different ways in which they will be able to expand their brand into different social networking platforms, increase their awareness and also broaden their scope of marketing.
Of late it seems like brands are more than willing to turn towards newer social networking sites and are much open to try and experiment with their campaigns by making them more edgy, funny and something that is different from their usual campaigns. Brands are trying to break free of their preconceived image and offer something more to their customers.
Some of the companies that have managed to create quite an impression on Instagram are Nordstrom, GoPro and Spotify, some of the unlikely names such as Hilary Clinton and even Taco Bell have managed to garner publicity by making use of Snapchat. In this blog, let us take a look at some stories that have managed to turn some of their craziest ideas into successful campaigns.
GoPro is an adventure camera manufacturer and they had come up with a really unique marketing campaign on Instagram that featured videos of felines that were skateboarding from Australia. Their campaign had managed to create a lot of buzz for their brand.
The reason was that who wouldn’t want to watch a video that manages to capture our cute furry friends engaged in human activities? They had managed to make a video go viral by combining the obsession of web viewers with cats doing goofy things with the genuineness of a consumer made video.
Expedia is a travel site and it had come up with a campaign that made use of the social networking platform Instagram. In this campaign, Expedia was offering a free trip to South Africa to those who participated in this campaign. The reason why this worked was that they had made use of a social networking vehicle that has got millions of people hooked across the globe.
The promise of an exotic holiday is too good to resist for anyone and that’s why they had managed to stir up the interest of the masses. For instance, a single photo of Rio de Janiero that was posted as a part of the campaign had managed to get around 499 likes and more than 500 comments within no time.
TOMS is an e-commerce vendor and they had set a goal that for every pair of shoes they would manage to sell, they would donate a pair of shoes to the destitute and needy children. This philanthropic campaign of TOMS was showcased on Instagram. TOMS mission was quite noble.
Whenever someone would post a picture of their bare feet with the hashtag #withoutshoes, TOMS would donate a pair of shoes to the needy. They wanted to demonstrate the dedication their company had towards the cause they had committed to. They had managed to donate 296,243 pairs of shoes altogether.
Taco Bell has been targeting millennials by making use of a platform that happens to be quite popular in their demographic, Snapchat. Taco Bell had decided to make the most of this platform and it proved to be a smart decision.
Taco Bell had launched this campaign for launching new items on their menu and held a contest of uploading snaps to its Snapchat story on the app. They had over 200,000 followers and their snap stories started generating a lot of hype and created quite a buzz.
Nordstrom had decided that they would announce their biggest annual sale by posting about it on Instagram. The company had written a post on Instagram that announced that their biggest sale of the year deserved an equally big message on Instagram. This upscale retailer had managed to create a gigantic art installation that was around 13,398sq.
feet high and it also had a 25 feet long dress, this was installed on the roof of their flagship store in Seattle. The related post on Instagram turned out to be a huge success and they had received more than 16,000 likes.
The sheer size of the installation showcased in the video represented the size of their annual sale and this managed to grab the attention of all the eager shoppers.
The famous international beauty brand L’Oreal Paris had set up a really elaborate digital hub in New York in their studio. This included eight of the prominent style influencers from the fashion industry and several models as well.
The team would focus on recreating the looks that were sported by the celebrities who walked the red carpet during the Golden Globes in the year 2015.
Once these videos had been shot they would be turned into GIFs that were shared on various social networking sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram along with the links to their e-commerce site. These GIFs were of high quality and their innovative idea did help them gain quite a fan following.
Spotify had recently launched a new tool that would scan the playlist of the user and their history as well and inform them of the artists that they had been the early listeners of who had later on become quite popular.
Spotify had decided to take this tool to Instagram, a social media platform for its promotion and had started using the hashtag #foundthemfirst.
This campaign for the promotion of their online tool was successful because Spotify had decided to keep it simple and didn’t unnecessarily over think it. Making the user data available that the company had with it was a really good marketing tactic. Spotify is all about connecting fans to the music that they appreciate and also giving them the inside details of this world.
HP (Hewlett Packard) is not really known for their prowess on social media and the social media campaign strategy that they had designed for the promotion of their HP PavillionX360 convertible laptop had changed the viewer’s perception of HP.
Their campaign on Vine was titled as #bendtherules. Instead of simply buying social ads, they had made use of paid social influencers on this network.
So, they gave the product they were intending to promote to these social influencers who in turn helped in creating awareness about this product on their Vines. One of the popular Vine videos that had garnered a lot of attention was that made by a popular Viner named Robby Ayala.
In the video that was posted, Ayala tries bending the competitor’s laptop that resulted in quite a comic video and had managed to get over 250,000 likes and more than 7,000 comments!
Critics have often written off Hillary Clinton as being too cold, calculating and controlled. The PR team behind the Clinton campaign decided to change this general perception of the public by making use of a social networking platform and they chose Snapchat for this purpose.
The Snapstories that were posted by Hillary were successful because they managed to humanize her ill-conceived character and made her seem more relatable than all those speeches that she had ever made.
Burberry, the British fashion house in a move to promote their clothing line had decided to make use of Periscope for streaming live their menswear fashion show and they also made use of Snapchat for providing a fleeting photographic update of the event.
This helped the iconic brand receive the best digital engagement that they had probably ever received. A month after this the fashion house had decided to stream live their fashion show that was held in Los Angeles on Snapchat and this helped them create over 100 million impressions.
This proves that if you know what your target base is then making use of social media marketing will prove to be really beneficial.
If you just know this one thing, then you can make use of the best resources available and create a marketing campaign that is beautifully strategized. Such a well-designed campaign will provide you with amazing results.
Ten Things to Be Kept in Mind
Social media marketing seems to be the “in” thing these days, but there are some important things that you need to keep in your mind while you are making use of this in your marketing strategies.
You need to come up with a mental checklist that will let you ensure that all the efforts that you are putting into this campaign are not just goal oriented but also capable of being measured while proving to be successful.
In this blog, we will take a look at ten things that you need to keep in your mind while you are developing your social media marketing strategies.
This is not just an additional platform
The broadcast marketers might make you believe that these social networking platforms are nothing more than an additional platform that will let you distribute your message to the masses.
Well, this really isn’t true. All the different companies and organizations that solely focus on their press releases and also keep talking about themselves will definitely end up as social media road kill.
You don’t want this, do you? Social media happens to be an important platform where you can engage with your existing customers and attract potential customers, so put in some effort and develop an engaging campaign.
Beware of social media experts
Beware of these so-called social media experts; they are simply sprouting up out of nowhere. Everyone and anyone claim to be a social media expert these days. They all can talk the talk but not many of them can walk the walk. Simply having the knowledge about how to tweet doesn’t make anyone an authority on this subject.
If any of these so-called experts can manage to show that they have had years of productivity, have a good reputation, come with good and genuine references and have managed to produce results that can be quantified.
Only such a person can be genuinely called as an expert. So, you needn’t worry and you don’t need a social media expert, as long as you know what you are doing and how to do it you will be fine. Be wary of anyone who claims to be a social media expert.
Some things never really change
The world of marketing has had a complete makeover; the way it is being approached and looked at has also changed. But there are some things that never really change even after the advent of all the technology. The good ol’ rules relating to communication, public relations and marketing still hold good.
These old-fashioned rules can be thought of as the basic ethics and they will never go out of fashion. It is crucial to know about the dynamics of your target audience, the value that your organization can add to their lives and also your ability to develop and offer such products and services that can satisfy their needs and wants are the areas that you really need to concentrate on.
And this information can prove to be very valuable for your marketing campaign. So, do not stray away from these concepts just because you have opted for social media marketing.
Social media marketing isn’t restricted to just Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter
Yes, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are really popular social media sites but these aren’t the only social networking platforms. In fact, they just form a tiny fragment of the social media ecosystem.
Web forums, email lists, podcasts, social bookmarking sites, different video, and photo sharing services and niche online communities all form a part of the world of social media.
You need to keep in mind that you haven’t restricted your campaign to just one platform. You will need to make an effort and understand the different platforms that your customers are making use of and start getting involved on those platforms to attract more customers.
It’s all about creating and maintaining relationships
At the end of the day, marketing is all about creating and building relationships. And social media provides you with all the necessary tools and likely platforms for you to get this job done.
But this does not mean that you should ignore the basics things such as one on one personal communication, because this helps in building a good rapport with your customers. You can’t build a relationship overnight, it takes a while. It is not just about the technology that we make use of; it’s about human beings.
Don’t get carried away
Social media is a powerful tool, but you need to realize that it can help you do a lot of things but not everything. Considerable time and effort should be dedicated to developing a marketing strategy that would actually work.
You will always have to do your bit if you want to achieve your goals. Social media marketing will work only if you have a good marketing strategy. So, put some effort into it.
It is not just confined to one thing
There are different elements that you will need to combine in a harmonious manner if you really want your campaign to work. Social media would be just one element; you will have to ensure that all the other elements of the campaign would also go hand in hand with this.
You cannot completely ignore the traditional methods of marketing and should develop a marketing campaign that would strategically involve both the new and old methods. You should give equal importance to all the other elements as well, instead of just solely depending on social media.
Building your brand
Some of the organizations these days are slowly moving away from destination websites and are instead shifting their focus on various community building strategies. If you really want to build your brand, then you will have to concentrate on various other things as well.
It is a really good move to have established your brand on major platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram, but what you need to remember is that these aren’t your only options.
You need to understand that your existing customers, as well as potential and likely customers, might be active on various other platforms and affinity groups that aren’t a part of the above mentioned popular platforms. You will need to broaden your horizons.
It isn’t just about return on relationship
You should be able to measure your success by making use of a mix of qualitative as well as quantitative metrics. But apart from it, you should also concentrate on different aspects such as brand recognition, the reputation of the brand in the market and the public’s awareness.
But you should also pay equal attention to metrics such as the money that has been raised, any increase in the number of attendees and subscribers, also an increase in the widgets that are sold and so on.
All these things will give you an idea of whether or not your business is doing well. You will have to be able to track the changes that have been produced by using social media marketing, if and only when you are able to obtain this data you will be able to know whether or not your social media strategy has worked.
You need to be sociable
You need to remember that at the end of the day there is one thing that is very important. You just need to be sociable, after all, social media is all about being sociable. No one and I mean no one would be keen on being associated with someone who is antisocial, not sociable or just keeps broadcasting.
You will need to come up with a strategy that will make your brand seem more socially appealing to your potential customers. It is about creating a good reputation for your brand.
Social Media Tools
There are various social media tools that you can make use of and it might be overwhelming to decide which of these tools you should make use of. To help solve this problem, in this blog we will take a look at some of the best social media tools that are really helpful.
Mention: This is a lot like Google alerts, but instead it is designed for social media. Like the name suggests this tool can help you to monitor your web presence on the Internet in an effective fashion. Mention also comes with a few features that allow you to respond to all the mentions made to your brand and it also lets you share any news that you have come across with the rest of the industry.
Buffer: this is an analytical tool that incorporates social media publishing within it. The buffer is a really handy social media tool and this helps in sending your updates across to the titans of social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on.
It comes with an inbuilt analytical system that not only helps you understand the reason why certain posts seem to be working better than the other posts as well as helping you figure out the best time for posting any particular publication according to the needs of your target audience.
The features offered by Buffer do not end here, it also lest you work collaboratively with your team and keep updating the account with fresh content on a regular basis.
Feedly: This is a content discovery tool and it is really helpful for finding content. It not only helps you find good content but it also lets you share whatever you have found with the right audience without any difficulty.
You also get to subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can stay in sync with all the recent updates on various blogs related to the industry as well as upcoming sites. If you happen to be interested in one particular topic, then you can make use of Feedly for tracking content related to your area of interest.
The name is self-explanatory. This online tool lets you keep a track of all the changes related to your followers and it also helps you in making a prediction relating to the growth of your followers over a period of time. After a point of time, it gets really hard to keep a track of the growth of your Twitter account.
This free service really does come in handy. It can help you to understand the rate of growth of your followers and it makes use of this information to help you decide upon the content that should be sharing with your audience. Not just this but it also helps you decide if there is any older content that you should probably share once again so that the new users also get a chance to view it.
Zapier: This social media tool acts as a platform where you can connect with all the various services that you make use of and it also lets you synchronize them all thereby making your work much simpler.
Your team might usually make use of HipChat for communicating with each other, and then you can make use of Zapier to set up an option that would enable automatic notifications in the HipChat chat rooms for any latest updates. You will also be able to connect all the different apps that you use on a single platform and this definitely simplifies your work.
Bottlenose: This comes with a brand new feature that has an inbuilt real-time search engine that helps you consolidate all your work from social networking sites and various other groups and then it displays the resultant data in an order or according to algorithmic importance. The end result is the content you obtain that has been arranged according to its importance in descending order.
When you have all the information that has been arranged according to your needs then your job does get a whole lot easier and you also get to share the results you have obtained. Another feature is that you can also opt to integrate Buffer with Bottlenose and this allows you to add any additional content as well as resources to it so that you can make use of it on a later date if you don’t want to overwhelm your followers with a lot of information.
Followerwonk: You can always make use of an analysis tool like Twitter Counter for instance for keeping a track of changes in the number of your followers, but then again there might be some cases wherein you might have wanted to go little deeper and analyze your followers a little more carefully. In such a case Followerwonk can be used, even this is an analysis tool for Twitter.
This tool provides you with an analysis of the followers by simply segregating them according to different demographics and this lets you get a better understanding of your followers. Perhaps the noteworthy feature of Followerwonk would be its ability to give you the specific time at which your followers are online and this helps you decide the time at which you should probably tweet to ensure a wider reach to your audience.
This tool also helps you know the time at which the people whom you follow are online as well. This really comes in handy when you have been meaning to start a conversation with someone you are following.
Quintly: This really is a very powerful tool and this can be used for obtaining a detailed analytical report of social media and it also helps you keep track of your business on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and so on.
Not just this but Quintly also lets you benchmark those features that can help you compare your performance against that of your competitors as well as against that of the industry as a whole. The Quintly dashboard lets you customize the tool according to your convenience.
25 Tips to Social Media Marketing Success
Social media marketing might seem very confusing and it is really easy to lose focus while making use of these tools. There are different platforms that you can make use of depending upon your conveniences, but before you zero in on any particular platform you need to realize that each of these platforms has got a definite format and particular rules that you will need to learn about, only then will you be able to use it for your advantage.
There will be plenty of time to expand your knowledge of these things later on, but before that, you will need to get acquainted with the ones that you have opted to make use of.
If you have decided that social media marketing is indeed the way to go for you, then the 25 tips mentioned in this blog will definitely prove to be really useful for you.
Make use of only those platforms that are suitable for your business needs:
Just because you have decided to make use of social media in your marketing strategy does not necessarily mean that you will have to make use of every single platform of social media that is available. You need to realize that it takes a considerable amount of time for understanding and learning about every one of these platforms before you can implement your plan.
Not even the most seasoned of the marketers will be able to handle more than a few of these accounts at a time, therefore you will need to spend a considerable amount of time and take a closer look at them all, look what are the benefits it would provide for your business and also whether or not it is suitable for your business before you get started.
Twitter and Facebook might have the largest number of subscribers and active participants, but this does not necessarily mean that these are the only choices you have got. You can also look at the different smaller platforms; you never know which of these might prove to be the best option for you.
You will have to evaluate everything:
The only way in which you will be able to determine whether or not the efforts that you have put in are working effectively and in the manner that they are supposed to work in can only be done by evaluating the data.
There are some social media platforms that have built-in tools that will help you do this, if not you can always make use of the third party social media tools to for the purpose of analyzing your data.
You can make use of these tools for understanding which part of your content seems to be getting maximum responses or even perhaps the content that isn’t able to attract more users and so on. In this manner, you will be able to come up with a strategy that is suitable for your business needs.
Make sure that you are posting the right thing at the right time:
It is not just about what you are posting that will have an effect on the number of views that you can generate, but it also depends upon the number of people who are sharing and interacting as well.
The timing of your posts is of utmost importance, most B2B business just sticks to the ordinary working hours for posting, but even with the given uniformity in posting, there will definitely be some days wherein you will be able to get a much better response or vice versa.
You will need to put in some considerable efforts and figure out who your target audience is and the likely time they would be online, depending on this you can make a decision.
Start building your connections:
One of the most common mistakes that a lot of social media marketers seem to be making is that they are talking to their audience instead of talking to them. You will need to engage with them on a personal level, interact with them and start building your connections. Your followers would rather associate themselves with a human being than with an automated machine.
You can build your connections by asking them to share their thoughts and then responding to what they have shared. If they send you any messages, then you should respond to them as soon as you can and if you start ignoring them, you can forget about any future potential conversions.
Going visual might help:
People are often put off by too much text; a large block of text wouldn’t be able to generate as much interest as a video would. Start making use of images, videos and even infographics, these are visually more appealing and also contain the information that you want your users to see.
When you are making use of any visual content then you will have to make sure that it is appealing, relevant and makes sense as well.
Make each one of your chosen platforms unique:
There are various tools that you can make use of for sharing your content across various platforms, this usually works when you have to share information that is really important, but then if you keep doing the same for every piece of information that you are sharing, then all the platforms that you have chosen will seem to be the same.
You need to realize that the people who are following you on one platform are likely to follow you on different platforms; they wouldn’t want to keep seeing the same content over and over again.
You will have to make each of your accounts different and unique, they should all be equally engaging and appealing, this will help you gain the interest of potential customers.
Make it worthwhile for your followers:
When someone starts following you on any social media platform, they would want to feel appreciated for doing so.
To make it worthwhile for your users you can offer rewards for subscribing or even following you, this can be in the form of a small discount or even an entry to a lucky draw for a prize. An incentive will be sufficient motive for an individual to start following and this will definitely grab their attention.
You will need to be a personable person:
Yes, it is true that social media is more relaxed than ordinary marketing strategies of a business but you will still have to maintain some professionalism about the way you do things.
You should give out some personal details that will provide a human character to your business but this does not mean that you start giving out your personal opinions about different things on the official page of the business.
If you start posting your personal views on topics related to politics or start talking about the latest celebrity gossip, it is very likely that your r followers will stop following you.
You need a social media manager:
This might not seem like a real job to you, but the results of having a proper social media manager will be really helpful in generating outstanding results.
Not everyone is really good at managing social media, and if this does not happen to be your area of proficiency then you really should engage the services of someone who can get the job done and is good at it as well.
In this manner, if you have someone helping you out with these things, then you can get back to running your business smoothly without having to divide your time and attention towards the marketing campaign. All that is required of you will be supervision.
If something doesn’t work, then let go of it:
Not everything you select will work for you; if something doesn’t work for you then it is smart to just drop it. It really doesn’t matter how much time you have spent analyzing it, the number of team members who are working on it, there will always be that one platform that simply isn’t the right fit for your business.
Instead of wasting further of your valuable resources on trying to make something that clearly isn’t working work, you should just let go of it. There are more opportunities out there that are waiting for you.
Start building relationships with different businesses:
If there happen to be any businesses that are in the same sector or industry that you are in then you can friend them and start following them, provided they aren’t your immediate competition.
You can always refer customers to each other and share followers and while doing this you might also be able to pick up on some tips.
This might really come as a pleasant surprise the number of things that you can learn from each other. But this does not mean that you start following everyone; show some discretion and chose wisely.
Learn to face the trolls:
As your success and popularity start increasing the amount of attention that you will receive on social media will also increase. And this means that you should also be prepared to deal with some abuse from other people.
If you notice that you have haters then you should be really careful in the manner that you reply to them and you can also bloc them if it starts getting too much. But don’t block individuals just because they don’t like your company or brand, this does not send the right message across to the other users.
You should always leave your work at work:
Especially when you are starting out, it is really tempting to be there 24/7 and keep a watchful eye over how things are going on, but you need to realize that this really isn’t possible.
Mobile technology has indeed made it possible for you to check your performance on social media from the comfort of your own home, but it really won’t do you any good to keep replying to comments and queries in the middle of the night.
The best thing to do is not to download any of the applications that are related to your work on your phone. You shouldn’t be carrying your work home even after the business hours. Once the working hours are over you should remember that your work for the day is over as well unless and until it is a really pressing matter.
You don’t have to keep on selling:
This might be the reason why you are in business, but it really isn’t a good idea to keep selling, this is considered to be a huge sin on social media.
Your followers wouldn’t want to keep getting bombarded with sales pitches after every ten minutes. You should understand that they aren’t on social media to do you a favor; instead, they are there to enjoy themselves and to learn probably.
All they are looking for is a way in which they will be able to build relationships and social media is for their entertainment. When they want to buy something, they will invariably come and find you, it might be on social media or it might be on your website or any other means.
Make sure that your business profile is complete:
All the social media platforms will provide you with sufficient space in your profile to give some information about yourself. You should make sure that your profile isn’t incomplete and also keep updating it regularly.
Your followers would definitely want to know about you and leaving blank spaces will not make you more appealing to them. They really wouldn’t want to follow someone whose profile isn’t even complete.
You should make social media a part of your plan:
Think of social media as a part of your business, an area where you should direct some of your focus.
Just like with any other area of business for you, you will need to make sure that you have set suitable goals and objectives to ensure that you will have a business plan to follow. And also when you have set goals you will be able to measure your performance in a much better way.
Make your followers eager to see your updates:
The goal of any good marketing strategy would be to get your followers to be eager to read the content that you post. Your followers should be hanging out to every word that you write, they should be eager to read your next post and they should be enthusiastic about it as well.
You would want them to keep checking constantly to see whether or not you have posted anything new. The only way in which you can get your followers this excited about your profile would only be by posting content that is of high quality, it is relevant and interesting to read.
Your content should be easy to share:
Technology has managed to simplify a lot of things for us. You can derive the most of anything by putting in a little bit of effort. And the same is true for social media marketing. But if you really want your content to be shared then you will have to do a little bit of work.
You should be able to package your content in a manner that is easy to share and also give people the buttons that would allow them to share the content with their friends or followers through their own social media pages.
You should make it really easy for your content to be shared that people will not be able to resist not sharing it. When the content you post keeps getting shared then your potential customers keep increasing and the conversion rate will also go up.
If you share something, then make sure that you comment on it:
It is not just about clicking the share option that lets you share something or even repost it. If you add a comment to something that you are sharing or reposting it would show that you are sharing it for a particular reason.
It would make the content seem like it is worth sharing with others. This will help you build up not just your own expertise but it will also help in building your reputation for being such an expert.
This tends to add a lot of value to whatever you are sharing in the future. Your personal opinion for sharing when added in the form of a comment makes your followers get to know you better as well.
Keep checking for any grammar or spelling errors:
This is a really important step. You are a professional businessperson and the worst thing that you can possibly do is publishing content that is full of grammatical errors and rookie mistakes.
If you think the content you are about to publish is anything short of well written then it will really do you good if you don’t publish it.
You should check for errors and then proofread it, double check your work and read the final draft once again before you publish it. The content you publish should be well written and it should be of high quality.
You should learn that reply and mention isn’t the same thing:
You should get yourself accustomed to the basic features of the different social media networks that you are making use of.
For instance, if you start a tweet with a username, then the people to whom this tweet will be visible to would be you, the person whose username you have mentioned and anyone who is either following you or the other person.
If you place the username somewhere in the middle of the post then it will make it visible to people who either follow you or the user.
If you are trying to talk about a specific person and you also want everyone to see it then you will just have to put that person’s name in the center of the post and not at the beginning itself.
But there might be some instances where it makes sense to have the username at the beginning of the post and not somewhere else, then in such a case you should add a full stop after the name. When you do this, such a post will be referred to as a Mention and not as a Reply.
Never post on the hour:
Most of the meetings and tasks as well are scheduled in such a manner that they will start at the top of the hour and when the clock strikes, people would be proceeding on to the next item that is on their agenda. And they will definitely not be looking for any updates on various social media networks.
If at all a task or even a meeting finishes early or perhaps it overruns a bit, then in such a case there will be a small window of opportunity where they will be able to check the various updates on their apps.
Therefore, it always makes more sense to post your content either just before or just after the hour and not right on it. In this manner, you will be able to ensure that more and more people will be able to see what you are posting about.
Interact with those users who share your posts:
If some follower of yours shares a link to your content or perhaps retweets or reposts the same message or post that you have published, then in such a case you really should take some time out and thank them.
You should always keep such people on your side, these people are carrying out free advertisements for you and you should rightly thank them for doing so.
Building a good relationship with a user who is supporting you can go a long way. This would ensure that they would keep on sharing the content that you are posting even in the future. Free publicity and advertising can help in building your brand and thanking someone for that aren’t much of an effort.
Familiarize yourself with the platform guidelines:
Each and every platform of social media will have certain guidelines. You should familiarize yourself with these guidelines to understand the form of content that is considered to be acceptable and what isn’t acceptable.
Basic common sense would dictate the kind of content that is acceptable and the kind of content that isn’t acceptable. Also, you should keep checking on the terms and conditions and the various guidelines that are given by the platforms.
For instance, Facebook keeps updating its guidelines related to things like running competitions and so on and breaching the guidelines issued would result in a penalty or they can suspend or even delete your account from such a platform and this can cause some serious damage to your business.
Ensure that you have included your location in your profile:
Always ensure that you have included your location in your profile on social media networks. This will provide people with the necessary information relating to your business.
People would know where your business is located even if your product or service offered happens to be based on the Internet; you will still need to provide the location of your business.
Only if they know where you are or where they can find you, only then will they be able to check in, especially on Facebook. This really is of great importance when you have a physical store that people can visit and not add your location might cost you some potential customers.
The very first thing is to understand what social media marketing refers to and know how to use it. It is extremely important for any company to advertise themselves and their products and services.
The best way to do so is by making use of social media platforms. You will see that it is possible for you to reach out to millions just by being part of a social media website.
The next thing to do is undertake the step by step procedure that you must adopt in order to arrive at the desired results. You have to go about it in a set way so that you can save on both time and effort.
Start by researching the topic of social media marketing and then move to choose the best platform for yourself. The next step is for you to set yourself up online and then look for the best promotional strategies that you can use to promote your products and services.
Facebook is one of the best platforms that you can pick to advertise your brand and products. You will see how easily you can reach out to millions. You have to make good use of Facebook pages and you will see that it is one of the best platforms to promote your brand and image.
Facebook is an easy platform to advertise on and it is even simpler to keep it updated. You will find it quite convenient to tell people about your products and services by making use of Facebook pages.
The next social media platform that you can advertise on is Twitter. Twitter, as you know, is the second most used social media platform in the world. You can keep it small and simple and advertise your brand, products, and services.
You can easily link all your social media platforms using this medium. You have to post Instagram pics on your twitter account and get people to notice it. You have to know how to use the #s and participate in the on-going viral movement and capitalize upon it.
YouTube is the next social media platform that you can use to advertise your company, products, and services. YouTube gives you the chance to make use of videos that you can upload and reach out to customers.
YouTube videos have the tendency to go viral, which will make it extremely easy for you to promote yourself. YouTube also has the power to demonstrate your products and services to your customers, which you should use to your advantage.
Instagram allows you to click pictures and upload them. These pictures need to be good quality pictures that you can use to promote your products and services. You have to appeal to as many people as possible if you wish to make the most of the platform.
You have to get someone famous to endorse for you as that will get you noticed by a lot of people. Instagram is possibly the best platform for you to advertise and showcase your products as a picture speaks a thousand words.
We looked at the different dos and don’ts of social media marketing that you have to bear in mind. It is important that you understand them carefully and do only as is asked of you too. Overdoing something will only hurt you and your company.
Put in the right efforts and you will see that it is simple for you to appeal to the right audience and increase your customer base. You can go through the don’ts again and steer clear of them.
Remember that the customer is always king. When you keep them happy you will see that your business is growing in leaps and bounds. So, you have to listen to what they are saying and keep them satisfied. Don’t unnecessarily fall into traps that some of the customers or non-customers will set up.
They will only be interested in pestering you and not really interested in buying any of your products and services. You have to learn to turn a blind eye to such people and continue with interacting with all your best customers.
You have to organize events for your best customers in order to understand them better and also keep them happy. The event needs to be good in order to keep the audience interested and educate as many new people about it as possible.
You have to focus on the offers that you organize for these people as that has the capacity to pull your audience in and keep them interested. Try to be as unique with your offers as possible and be creative.
There are other types of social networking sites that you can work with to promote your company. These include linked in, Google+ etc. All of these will help you reach out to a bigger and diverse audience.
After all, isn’t that what you want? A big audience that will keep your business going for a long time, so you have to put in an effort to be present on all the platforms that exist on the Internet and diversify your presence.
Setting the Stage
With so many avenues to approach and design a brand strategy, it is always beneficial to the success of the strategy to plan ahead. Social media strategies should be synergistic with the overall corporate communications, public relations (PR), and marketing plans.
Successful social strategies include elements from every department within the company. A few elements to keep in mind as you begin to design your social media strategy include the following:
Goal Plan: When companies decide to embark upon a social strategy, including setting up a Facebook fan page, creating a Pinterest board, or initiating a Twitter account, they must first define what they want to achieve.
Set clear goals and be sure to consider how this activity fits within the overall communications strategy. You also need to take the time to determine whether your customers utilize the particular social networking site(s) that you plan to utilize.
Content Plan: Formulate a plan for maintenance of your content. Social sites must be continually maintained or consumers will become uninterested and leave. Your social strategy should outline the frequency that devised content will be uploaded—hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. Consistency is key; however, posting relevant content is equally important.
Conversation Plan: Companies must determine the types of conversations that they are seeking to have with their consumers. It is also helpful to consider any anticipated responses that will materialize.
Is a retweet good enough, or is the expectation to converse back and forth between customers and your brand? Is liking a post on Facebook okay, or does the company want consumers to share the information with their audiences too?
Operation Plan: Who is going to manage the social site? Planning is always fun, but once the planning is over, someone must curate content and maintain the site. Protocols, reputation management guidelines, and rules for conduct are all essential.
Evaluation Plan: As with all PR planning, the “evaluate” stage is critical. One method of measurement is to record the number of conversation starters. For example, you can track the number of status updates, videos, or links that a company shares to generate conversations.
Companies can also track the number of fans, increases in fans, likes, and posts generated by fans. Measuring outcomes that correlate with corporate goals and communication goals is also a good way to evaluate the success of a social strategy.
Social strategies should support the overarching goals of the communications plan and those of the company. Any metrics collected should be weighed against those goals to understand the level of success that each initiative has achieved.
Social Network, Social Networking Site, Social Networking
There are three common terms often confused with one another: “social network,” “social networking site,” and “social networking.” Author Gohar Khan simplifies the three Social networks are groups of nodes and links formed by social entities.
Social networking sites are specific software or social media tools designed to facilitate relationships. Facebook is the most commonly known social networking site. Social networking is the act of forming, increasing, and maintaining relationships on the social sphere.
The social media cheat sheet provides a quick guide that simplifies the pros and cons of each major social network. Source: Infographic courtesy of Likeable Media (www.likeable.com).
With more than 1.37 billion people using Facebook and more than 2.07 million active daily users, Facebook is considered one of the most influential social networking sites in the world.
Facebook provides users with the ability to share information and communicate with family and friends, while also promoting openness and connectivity. More than 4.75 billion pieces of content have been shared daily since 2013.
This includes web links, news stories, blog posts, status updates, photos, and more. Facebook provides a place to not only share information but also to interact with it. News organizations, for example, allow people to post their stories directly to their Facebook walls to share with friends.
Brands use Facebook to build communities and engage with consumers in a more personal and meaningful manner. Facebook is also accessible through mobile phones, iPads, and other tablet devices. It makes sense to include Facebook in a company’s social strategy, considering that the average Facebook user is connected to eighty pages, groups, and events.
Back to Basics
Understanding the fundamentals will go a long way in establishing a strong presence on Facebook. Certain terminology is used frequently, and therefore it is important for PR professionals and social media strategists to have a firm grasp of the language used and its meaning. A list of the most frequent terms used when referring to Facebook is provided below
Brand Page/Profile—the official presence of a business, artist, political official, brand, cause, or product where the owner shares information and interacts with fans on Facebook. Pages create a culture that allows businesses to interact and engage with their fans one on one.
EdgeRank—an algorithm used to determine the content that appears in a person’s newsfeed.
Fan—a Facebook user who “likes” a corporation’s business page.
Friend—(v) to add a person as a connection to your personal profile; (n) a personal connection on Facebook.
Friend List—an ordered sorting of friends.
Group—an organized group of users with a common connection or similar interests, for example, “coworkers” or “family.” Groups can be public or private.
Insights—the metrics used to analyze demographic data about the user’s audience. Insights also highlight how people see, discover, and respond to posts.
Like(s)—(v) to become a fan and “like” a business’s page or to “like” a comment posted by a friend or business; (n) the number of users who “like” your page.
Network—a collection of Facebook users, who may be related to a school, location, place of employment, or category such as “engineer,” “nurse,” or “educator.”
Newsfeed—the center column of a user’s home page. The newsfeed is continually updated with status updates, photos, videos, links, likes, and app activity from friends and pages that users follow. This section can be broken down by “top news” or “recent news.”
Personal Profile—pages for individuals, not businesses, who have an account from which they are able to share information and interact with brands.
Timeline—a collection of photos, stories, and experiences that users or brands post.
Constructing Your Brand Page on Facebook
Setting up a brand page on Facebook is fairly straightforward and easy. Facebook has very simple and uncomplicated instructions for novices.
Brand pages offer “insights” that include statistical data that can be useful in measuring growth. As a company’s social strategy develops and matures over time, data and analytics will become increasingly important. Which promotions work and which may need tweaks and promotional “reach” can be evaluated through insights.
A brand page also affords a company an additional opportunity to highlight important information that the customers might find important. The company address, telephone number, website, and email address, as well as other social networking sites that the company is on, are all excellent pieces of information that a company should include.
The company logo should be the profile photo for the brand page. Aldi, the NFL, Maybelline, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mastercard, the New York Times, and even television shows such as The Good Doctor and Saturday Night Live are examples of brands that incorporate their logos as their profile photos. This helps reinforce the company brand.
A company may also elect to set up customized Facebook landing pages that require users to “like” the company page before they are able to access certain features. Some brands like Pier One Imports require users to “like” their pages before they can receive a coupon during certain promotions.
Attractive, Interactive, and Fresh
Brand pages should be attractive to your audience and provide enough information to generate interest in your products, services, and company. One of the benefits of a brand page is that it allows for mutual interaction.
Set up a photo gallery, update the company status regularly, post videos, share links, and invite consumers to events. Facebook events can be used to promote anything from product demos to Internet shows, community events, and open houses.
Invite users to the event so that they can then share it with their friends. This is an excellent technique to generate buzz about upcoming special occasions. Keep content fresh.
Including fun, creative posts are important, but be sure to follow the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto rule: 80 percent of the time the content should be relevant to your audience, with the remaining 20 percent specific to the company or products.
Companies understandably want to make fans aware of their products and services, but it is important to make use of customer stories, photos, videos, and other interesting and informative responses when establishing the community.
Customized URL Address
Custom URLs make it easy to direct people to your brand page. Facebook allows brands to choose a specific URL address. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods uses https://www.Facebook.com/dickssportinggoods/, where “dicks sporting goods” is the customized portion of the show’s Facebook URL.
Companies should use the same username, or a very similar username, on all social networks to reinforce consistency within the brand. Keep it short, so that consumers can remember it. URL Shortener, Custom Branded URLs, API & Link Management allows for users not only to shorten links but also to customize them.
Badges, Widgets, and Apps
Once a user likes a company brand page, a company then has access to that fan on a consistent basis. Badges, widgets, and apps are excellent techniques to connect on a more in-depth level.
There are four types of badges for sharing different information. “Profile” badges are used to share profile information, a “like” badge showcases pages that users have liked, a “photo” badge shares Facebook photos, and a “page” badge advertises a company page on Facebook.
Brands will often want to expand the audiences that their Facebook pages reach. Adding third-party widgets from Facebook’s App Center allows companies to run contests on their pages, collect data with forms, import external feeds, and customize content through HTML coding.
Facebook apps allow for a deeper incorporation into the core Facebook experience and even tap into Facebook algorithms to help reveal the best content for users.
Apps fully integrate with Log In or Sign Up, the newsfeed, and the notifications—all of which drive traffic and engage users.
The challenge with video marketing is creating catchy and attractive videos when faced with the realities of human and financial constraints.
Debuting in 2016, live streaming allows users to stream live videos using only a smartphone camera. This allows any Facebook user the unparalleled ability to engage and connect with your followers in real time.
Brands such as Martha Stewart and Kohl’s have paved the path to success by using Facebook’s live-streaming feature. Martha Stewart leverages the technology by streaming various how-to videos, recipes, and daily goings-on with Martha Stewart.
Kohls partnered with Tone It Up to generate buzz for their live #GetActiveWithKohls campaign. Members of Tone It Up took to the airwaves to promote the cause by completing a live workout.
Top Fan Brand Pages
Even with the rise in popularity of live video, fan pages remain an important aspect of social media planning.
Generating buzz using creative incentives such as “liking” a page or reaching a certain number of “shares” allows fans to become brand advocates. Fans naturally want to engage with brands that resonate with them. By sharing a post or liking a company status update, a fan is promoting your business.
The first priority of a PR or social media practitioner is to listen to customers and communicate by engaging in conversations with them.
Unlike traditional advertising or marketing, a Facebook strategy requires a deeper and more meaningful level of interaction. Here are some brands that are building formidable relationships on Facebook:
TOMS Shoes: The brand has tapped into its core belief system of the one-to-one principle. It follows the 80/20 rule by balancing fan responses and interactions with the promotion of its products.
Burberry: This brand excels at hitting its target market with content that its users want. Elegant, simple, and stylish images present everything fans love about the brand. The company also connects with fans by showcasing past campaigns from previous years.
Starbucks: This Facebook brand page includes photos and updates from local stores. The company connects with fans by illuminating the intimacy of friends enjoying the coffee experience together.
Ford: The brand excels at having meaningful conversations with fans. The company promotes content that highlights the history of the Model T to Ford enthusiasts of today. Fans can download wallpaper or earn badges to declare their allegiance to their favorite Ford car—the Mondeo, the Mustang, and even the Escort.
Facebook and Google can give each company a run for their money if it were simply a numbers game. Both boast high active users, but what does that really tell us about using each as part of a strategic social media and PR plan?
Within the PR industry, Google is met with mixed reviews. If one were to simply look at the numbers, it would appear that it makes sense to include Google as part of a full social media plan.
However, Google has struggled as a social networking site. Consumers have not readily taken to Google+ Circles and its ability to separate friends from “friends.” What does this mean for a practitioner? Discount Google all together? Not exactly.
Because Google offers easy integration across all of its platforms and services, including Google Search, Google Analytics, Gmail, and YouTube, practitioners should use Google where it makes the most sense.
For PR professionals and social media strategists, the ability to pull data and analytics from these rankings provides a brand with the power to create strong and formidable campaigns.
One of the most important features aside from Search is Google Analytics, which can help PR professionals advance their reporting abilities.
Arguably, Google Analytics is one of the predominant tools when it comes to understanding insights about your digital efforts and how they support the overarching goals of the organization. Google Analytics can provide a lot of data.
Using Google Analytics appropriately, a PR professional can tease out important data and develop targeted communication, allowing for better overall business decisions. Bernard Marr, the author of Data Strategy, believes that turning data into action transforms an organization for the better.
Data-driven strategies and social media analytics will be explored more thoroughly later in the blog.
Another social tool, Twitter, is often incorporated into a social strategy because it is a great way to start a conversation with your target market and build and manage connections with customers, prospects, bloggers, and a myriad of other influencers.
Launched in 2006, Twitter is a powerhouse on the social sphere. People clamor to connect with one another, update their statuses, learn about new products, share ideas, and create connections on Twitter. Twitter is one of the best social media channels for customer engagement.
With more than 500 million active users sending more than 500 million tweets per day, Twitter has become a crucial social media tool.
Businesses, both big and small, use Twitter for a variety of reasons, including lead generation, customer service, and even competitive intelligence. The rationale for introducing Twitter in the social strategy will vary based on individual company goals and outcomes.
Twitter is known as a “microblogging” service. The once succinct 140- character limit was eliminated by the company in favor of a more robust 280-character limit. Twitter noted that the “longer character count allowed users to express more of their thoughts without running out of room to tweet.”
This was met with mixed reviews. According to Sara Perez, the controversy surrounding the decision is founded in the principle “that one of Twitter’s defining characteristics is the brevity of users’ posts.
Many argued that the increase to 280 characters would make Twitter less readable, as longer tweets filled their timelines. Others suggested that Twitter’s focus on a feature no one really asked for was diverting its attention from more critical problems— like the rampant abuse, harassment and bullying it’s become known for, unfortunately.”
Only time will tell how brands will use the 280-character count to connect with their target audience.
ABCs and 123s of Twitter
Similar to the other social networks, Twitter also uses a set of common terms, symbols, and language—often dictating how users behave. The following are key terms that all Twitter users should know:
Twitter Handle—an individual’s or entity’s username. This is the name used to represent an individual or a company on Twitter. For example, Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, tweets from the Twitter handle @EdelmanPR.
Symbol—probably the most common symbol used on Twitter. This signifies that you are commenting or conversing with another Twitter user directly.
RT—retweet. When a user RTs a fellow user’s tweet, it is essentially like forwarding that tweet to all of the people in that user’s own Twitter stream.
In business, RTs spread the information that a company wants to share with others, including links to articles, blogs, newspapers, websites, journals, contests, and coupons. When retweeting, a user should always credit the original user.
Hashtag—used to aggregate a conversation surrounding an event, topic, or theme. For example, this blog uses #LRNSMPR to share links about social media and PR. Hashtags are created by combining the “#” symbol with a word, phrase, or acronym. When a tweet contains a hashtag, it then becomes searchable.
Like—represented by a small heart icon in a tweet. These are most commonly used when users like a tweet. Liking a tweet can let the original poster know that his or her content resonated with you, or you can save the tweet for later.
DM—direct message. A private message from one Twitter user to another. A DM can only be sent if both Twitter users follow one another.
Status Update—a tweet.
Twitter Stream—a list of a user’s real-time Twitter updates.
Twitter Chat—an event held entirely online and intended as a forum for people to exchange ideas and discuss a specific topic. Twitter users connect with other like-minded Twitter users. Twitter chats are casual events that do not require registration and are generally organized by an individual or small group, an organization, or company.
The intention of any Twitter chat is to be educational, conversational, and informative. Twitter chats are not forums to promote or sell products.
A popular Twitter chat among PR professionals and students is #PRStudChat. This event is designed to bring together PR students, professionals, and educators for energetic conversations surrounding the PR industry and to provide opportunities for learning, networking, and mentoring.
Monthly charts are organized by cofounders Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) and Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon).
Twitter List—a curated group of Twitter users that are organized by the commonalities among its participants. Lists help individuals and companies organize their followers into categories or groups. This allows a user to easily view tweets from a specific group without having to scan an entire feed.
Blue Verified Badge—lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic.
URL Shorteners—used to shorten and share links. The most frequently used shorteners include Google URL Shortener (Google URL Shortener), and TinyURL.
The Business of Twitter
There are numerous lists available that identify the ways in which businesses are using Twitter to connect and, yes, even monetize their strategies. PR practitioners should lead the company strategy on Twitter by tweeting useful resources, insightful ideas, and helpful tips that will ultimately benefit their followers.
Establishing company representatives as leaders within an industry is common in PR. Tweeting company resources, including white papers, blogs, and eblogs, is an excellent way to illustrate that a company representative is a thought leader.
Following social media strategies and connecting with others on the social web is not just about your company.
Take the time and commit the effort to link other resources within communications to your consumer base beyond those only written by the company.
In the business realm, using Twitter is more than merely tweeting content. A company Twitter page is like any other piece of collateral. It must be branded. The first thing a company should do when initiating a Twitter handle is to upload an image as the profile picture that represents the company and what the company has to say.
Many companies opt to use a branded logo. Some small businesses or sole proprietors opt to use a photo of the person who maintains the Twitter account. Regardless of the image chosen, it should represent the professional image of the company.
The profile background and header image should blend together well since they also represent the brand. You want to make it easy for users to find what they are seeking when they search for you or your company on Twitter.
It is important to detail your real name and location or the name of your company and where it is headquartered. Finally, write the best, most succinct bio that you possibly can. What captures your company attitude? Companies should have fun and be creative when writing the 160-character biography.
Some companies include other Twitter handles managed by the company and even Twitter chats that the company hosts. Moosejaw, the Michigan-based outdoor apparel company, uses its logo and the quippy tagline “The most fun outdoor retailer on the planet” for its Twitter image.
The Coca-Cola Company has distinct accounts for specific products and independent channels. Twitter users who follow @CocaColaCo can learn about what’s happening within the company itself.
Those who follow @Coca-ColaZero can get the latest updates on their favorite soda, while users who follow @WorldofCocaCola can experience the story of the company, interact with the Coca-Cola polar bear, and learn more about the more than one hundred flavors the company offers across the globe.
Managing a company brand on Twitter is fairly straightforward and is accomplished by monitoring what is happening with your brand and what is going on within your industry.
Staying abreast of the conversations on Twitter helps brands connect more intimately with their customers, while at the same time eliminating surprises, including disgruntled customers and faulty products.
When a company appoints an individual to manage its Twitter account, that person should be knowledgeable, a good listener, and trustworthy.
Twitter is not an advertisement, marketing campaign, or a fad. Any company that enacts a Twitter strategy would benefit from appointing individuals whom it trusts completely with its brand reputation since Twitter users expect to interact with a real person.
Bonding with Followers
The value of any interaction on social media is the conversation and relationship that is cultivated with real people and real customers. Using Twitter, there are plenty of ways to interact with your customers and engage in meaningful conversations.
Special offers and coupons are often used. Companies can easily tweet exclusive offers to their followers. A benefit of using Twitter to support this strategy is that when the offer is compelling enough, the follower will not only redeem the offer but also share it with his or her followers.
A good habit to get into is to link back to a company landing page where customers can download the coupon, eblog, or free code to the latest webinar the company has hosted.
When companies steer customers back to a specified webpage, they create an opportunity to expose customers to the company website, where they may be inclined to look at or purchase other products.
Customer service is often an avenue of connection on Twitter. When customers have questions for the company, they rely on Twitter. When customers have complaints, they rely on Twitter.
According to AJ Agrawal, entrepreneur and Forbes contributor, “Companies who use Twitter as a customer service portal typically see a 19% lift in the satisfaction of their customers. Most of us, as customers, value customer service more than anything else.
We hate having to wait to solve a solution over the phone, expect prompt responses and want to walk away from problem has found a solution. What’s more, with 75% of us loving the instant gratification that social media brings, contacting companies on social is making more and more sense.”
One of the leading brands supporting excellent customer service via Twitter is the team at Nike. They monitor the @NikeSupport Twitter handle, where their sole purpose is to respond to customers who need help. They boast a 73 percent response rate, which is three times higher than the closest brand.
Team recruitment isn’t saved for LinkedIn alone. Recruiting and hiring managers to turn to Twitter to post open positions, leverage their network of followers, and view potential employee profiles.
Philanthropic endeavors permeate the social sphere on Twitter. Twitter has been used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and benevolent causes.
In addition, Twitter has been a critical component to spread awareness about social issues. For example, the world came together to globally support the complex struggles of the Egyptian and Libyan populations using Twitter.
The key here is to look around the next time you wonder what you should tweet. Is there anything of note happening in the office that your customers may want to see? Maybe you could share a sneak peek at the latest photo shoot or the guest speaker who is spending a day at the office. Simply pull out that smartphone, snap a photo, and tweet it.
Perhaps your company has an upcoming conference or webinar it is hosting—tweet the link to that event. Tweet the company’s latest blog post.
You could also post a link to another industry leader’s content that your customers may find relevant. Finally, and this is especially important in building brand awareness, just chat with your network.
After all, Twitter is “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting.”
As consumers continue to flock to the social sphere in droves, so are businesses and brands, because it has been demonstrated time and again that these sites drive traffic, increase authentic engagement, and build brand loyalty.
The recent changes that LinkedIn implemented created more opportunities for businesses to launch a brand page and the results are paying off.
An astonishing 467 million members in more than 200 countries and territories are on the professional social networking site LinkedIn.
This social network boasts 106 million unique monthly U.S. visitors and is available globally in 24 languages. If you look a bit closer at these statistics, professionals are signing up on LinkedIn at a rate of approximately two new members per second.
There are more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, making them the fastest-growing demographic.
This makes LinkedIn the world’s largest professional social network. Creating a company profile with a company page on this network just makes sense. Professionals come to LinkedIn for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for a new job, while others join groups to network with.
LinkedIn’s membership includes individuals spanning numerous sectors, including employees, potential customers, purchasing managers, clients, and users who are simply interested in observing what is going on in industries.
LinkedIn members typically follow companies to keep abreast of new developments, compare products and services, track potential business opportunities, and keep a lookout for job openings. When members want to know more about a company, they seek out company pages and access specific profiles.
Central to the Brand
Businesses should consider their company pages as anchors within LinkedIn. A company’s page is the first place a member lands to see company status updates, the latest blog post written by thought leaders within the business, Twitter updates, and special offers, and to network with other professionals.
Company pages bring life to a brand, reveal the human side of a business, and reach millions of professionals through word-of-mouth recommendations. Businesses can manage and measure all facets of the company brand on
LinkedIn, including product brands and employment brands. There are four tabs on every company page on LinkedIn: overview, careers, products, and insights.
The overview tab is akin to the front receptionist in a typical brick-and-mortar business. A receptionist will often greet visitors and make them feel welcome. A company page should accomplish the same goal. This is the first impression that a newcomer will have of your business.
A high-level overview of the company should be included on the overview tab along with a cover image that represents the company and brand. Be mindful of how the company description is written and the images used to represent the company.
Any text and photography should be consistent with the company’s brand position across multiple channels.
Unilever (http://www.linkedin.com/company/unilever) has a created a strong image that represents not only some of the brands that it sells but also its people, philanthropy efforts, and followers.
The overview tab gives members the opportunity to connect with a company on various levels:
Follow the company to stay abreast of significant developments, updates, employment opportunities, and landmark events.
Access the latest news through the company Twitter feeds and blog posts.
Connect with employees of the company.
Access essential data on the company.
View the “employee statistics” area to gain a better understanding of the company makeup. There is no better ambassador for a company than its own employees. Connecting with employees humanizes a company.
Five Steps to a Successful Company Page on LinkedIn
Be Creative: Be creative with how you present your company. Upload an image that welcomes visitors to the company page and reinforces the presence of the brand. Create and share videos that resonate with your target audience.
Members are more likely to share information that they think their sphere of influence will appreciate.
Start Conversations: Post regular updates that spark conversations with members.
Share with Others: Share your status updates and encourage members within your company to add the company page to their personal profiles.
It should become common practice for employees to “like” and “share” the content published on the company page. Sharing drives traffic to the company page and increases the number of people who see your content updates.
Show Off a Little: Add your product or services so that LinkedIn members can see what you have to offer. Include recommendations to further highlight the reasons why your products and services are special.
Extend Your Reach: Feature relevant groups to reach a broader audience.
The feed on LinkedIn is a company’s way of communicating important messages to its audience. Some businesses are more effective than others at using images to tell their stories, providing rich content, writing compelling status updates, and engaging in meaningful dialogue with their target audiences.
Hays, a staffing and recruiting company (https://www.linkedin.com/company/3486/); Schneider Electric (https://www.linkedin.com/company/2329/);
Hotmart, a platform to sell digital products, (https://www.linkedin.com/company/2960917/); and Woolworths Group (https://www.linkedin.com/company/295257/) are some companies that understand the best practices for creating an effective company page.
Premium careers pages, a paid subscription section within LinkedIn, allow businesses to promote general job opportunities as well as post specific jobs that target candidates using an automated job-matching system.
This tab also allows a company to highlight awards, showcase the company’s best employees, and even determine various career paths available within the company. Customized modules like this help complete the corporate story by providing a company with an opportunity to share its mission, vision, and goals.
The company products tab is particularly important because it accomplishes three goals: it (1) enables a business to showcase its best products and services to a highly targeted audience, (2) creates a place to feature product recommendations, and (3) facilitates meaningful conversations with current and prospective customers.
It would be prudent for a business to take advantage of the features provided in this tab. One such feature allows a company to capture the significant features of its products by incorporating powerful images and video clips that promote interactivity.
Some businesses also include the contact details of the people behind the products in case members would like to connect directly with a designer or simply learn more, buy a product, or contract with a company for work.
Companies that understand how to connect with their members on LinkedIn create personalized content that is geared toward that specific target market.
Using this technique, companies retain the ability to show different content to different members based on their preferences and needs. Currently, LinkedIn offers users up to thirty specific audience segments (based on date), including segmentation by industry, geography, company size, and more.
Companies need to capitalize on the fact that recommendations from family, friends, and peers are greatly influential in our decision-making process.
By featuring recommendations from trusted third-party entities, organizations, and LinkedIn members, companies can potentially benefit from these influences related to specific products or brands.
LinkedIn is a social networking site dedicated to professionals and businesses alike. The following glossary of commonly used terms is provided to help ground users in the LinkedIn lingo.
1st Degree Connections: These are users that you choose to connect with personally. In general, these are the individuals whom you have established a personal relationship with prior to connecting on LinkedIn. These can be school-related connections, previous colleagues, or personal friends.
2nd Degree Connections: These are contacts of a 1st-degree connection.
3rd Degree Connections: These are contacts of a 2nd-degree connection.
Activity Feed: This feature of LinkedIn displays the current activity of any of your connections—generally other users or groups that you are a part of. This would also include activities related to joining or starting groups, comments that you have made, changes to your profile, and application downloads.
Activity Broadcasts: This includes content that appears on the Activity Feed and is visible for other users to see and comment on. This section can be edited.
Anonymous Viewers: These are LinkedIn members who have chosen to keep part or all of their profiles private.
Applications: Applications allow members to integrate other social media networks with their LinkedIn account, including Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.
Basic Account: This is a free LinkedIn account.
Connection: A connection is another LinkedIn member who has accepted your invitation to connect, network, and view each other’s profiles and networks.
Groups: Groups allow professionals to develop their careers by sharing expertise, experience, and knowledge.
Invitation: This is a request from an existing member or individual not on LinkedIn to join or make a professional connection.
InMail: These are private messages that allow a member to directly contact any LinkedIn user while protecting the recipient’s privacy. This is a fee-based service.
Job Seekers Account: LinkedIn members can choose between three levels of fee-based job-seeking accounts: basic, standard, and plus. The aim of this service is for the member to gain increased exposure to potential employers.
LION: This acronym, meaning “LinkedIn open networker,” is sometimes visible on a member’s profile. It simply means that the particular member agrees to connect with anyone, regardless of industry or connection.
Network: This is a group of users who can contact you via connections up to three degrees away.
Open Link Network: Premium members can join this network, which allows any Linked- In member to send them an InMail free of charge, regardless of relationship.
Premium Accounts: This is an upgraded LinkedIn account where members can pay a monthly or annual subscription fee. Paid account benefits include InMail, better profile search results, expanded profiles, and larger storage space.
Recommendations: Similar to letters of recommendation, recommendations are references that are written to recommend a colleague, business partner, or someone whom you have done business with.
Analytics is invaluable to all social media strategies. Analytics allow most PR professionals and social media strategists to track the successes and failures of their campaigns. Each LinkedIn company page is outfitted with an insights tab that is only visible to administrators.
Company administrators can analyze the number of visits to their company pages and the demographics of followers, and they track new followers, see which areas have the most hits, and monitor overall page growth.
Using this analytics, administrators can easily populate graphs, providing insights regarding traffic, user-pattern page clicks, likes, comments, shares, and percentages related to a number of valuation metrics.
Proof Is in the Pudding
Successful companies lead by example. LinkedIn is a great illustration of how a social networking platform can best utilize each offered feature to support business initiatives. On average, LinkedIn posts fresh, engaging content approximately 150 times each month to its members.
Fresh videos, images, status updates, and blog posts keep members coming back for more and incidentally also promote increased sharing among members. From a social site whose original goal was to provide networking opportunities and recruit talent, LinkedIn has become a powerhouse in search, content, and influence.
Another social media platform, Pinterest, has seen its adoption continually increase since its inception and now takes its place as a “go-to” social media tool alongside other veteran social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Pinterest has quickly become one of the biggest social traffic referral sites, recording more traffic than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined.
The astonishing growth of Pinterest has led to widespread media coverage and an abundance of articles, blog posts, forum discussions, how-to podcasts, and videos about how this new social network is taking the social web by storm.
Keenly adept at what other social networks have done so well, Pinterest connects people and triggers them to share and communicate, while at the same time facilitating discovery rather than having users search for what they want.
The fastest social site to garner 10 million visitors per month in the short history of social media, Pinterest’s rise to the top has communications professionals, tech junkies, and social media thought leaders amazed at the power it commands.
Strictly speaking, Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, curate, and uncover new interests by “pinning” videos or images to their own pinboards.
Through pictorial representations, brands can connect with pinners who share interests and preferences that the brand represents. Pinterest is a social network meant to “collect and organize the things that inspire” its users.
With thirty-two categories of pinboards, brands have the ability to connect on many levels. There are five types of pinners:
The Influencing Pinner: Influencers’ activity affects the decisions of those who follow them. If an influencer pins or repins an image from your brand, others are likely to follow suit.
Influencing pinners recommend products, websites, contests, and social connections that they believe other Pinterest users will also enjoy. These individuals have the ability to sway the decision-making power of their followers.
The Purchasing Pinner: These pinners express themselves through pictures and images relevant to items that they have purchased or plan to purchase.
The Almost Purchasing Pinner: Pinners who use Pinterest as a social bookmarking site or simply as a wish list fall into this category. These users pin images as a reminder of what they want to do, buy, plan, share, or come back to at a later date.
The “In It for the Long Haul” Pinner: Pinners in this category use Pinterest to explore and conduct research on products or projects that they know will eventually be purchased or implemented. Pinners who are “in it for the long haul” know what they want. For example, perhaps they are planning a wedding.
These individuals know that they need invitations, but they do not quite know what type of invitation they like. They will create a board and save images that approximate what they are looking for. These users will keep collecting pins until they find the perfect pin.
The Instantaneous Pinner: Instantaneous pinners are precise in what they search for on Pinterest—for example, “hand-painted, classic, do-it-yourself wedding invitations” rather than “wedding invitations.”
Pinterest Promoted Pins
One of the biggest changes for all businesses, small and large, occurred when Pinterest opened up Promoted Pins to everyone. Now any company seeking to grow its business through Pinterest can develop a strategy around Pinterest Ads and Promoted Pins.
According to Ash Read, the data around this new endeavor has been encouraging. Companies that used “the Pinterest Ads Manager received an average of 20% more (free) clicks in the month after the start of a Promoted Pins campaign.”
Branded profiles allow businesses to develop promotions that encourage users to follow the profiles of individual brands and pin items from their websites. Whole Foods Market, an early adopter of Pinterest, has amassed close to 330,000 followers on this platform.
With fifty-seven boards ranging in topic from organically grown foods—“How Does Your Garden Grow?”—to gift-giving ideas—“Great Gifts (… You May Not Think Of)”—the company presents itself to a variety of audiences.
However, Whole Foods Market does not overly promote its products on these boards. Its pins relate to the core values of the company: being all-natural, sustainable, and organic.
When defining a social strategy for Pinterest, brands should focus on creating genuine interactions that result in a community of dedicated and loyal followers. Think of pins in terms of “likes” and every comment and follow as a symbol between two people building a long-term friendship.
The social strategy for Whole Foods Market is to pull content from blogs and other online sites that align with its mission.
Mastercard’s acceptance campaign during Pride Weekend in New York City engaged pinners from all over. The #AcceptanceMatters campaign was twofold: Mastercard being accepted around the world and spreading awareness about the acceptance of people.
By introducing the hashtag #AcceptanceMatters, Mastercard immediately resonated with a number of Pinfluencers. Without a single pinboard follower at the outset of the campaign, Mastercard tallied 171 new followers over the course of the campaign.
More importantly, over the following nine-week period, the company generated more than 24.5 million media impressions, resulting in 13,000 repins and an outreach that was simply unprecedented.
Perhaps one of the most successful Pinterest campaigns to date is the creation from the brilliant minds at Honda. You Deserve a Pintermission campaign promoted the CR-V’s young, hip, live-life image by reaching out to five influential pinners and challenging them to a #Pintermission.
They were asked to take a twenty-four-hour break from Pinterest so they could bring something from their personal pinboards to life. To help the influential pinners complete the activity, Honda gave each $500.
Although other social networking sites require mastery of a long list of essential definitions, Pinterest only has a few phrases that matter.
Follow: Following means that a user wishes to pay attention to whatever another user is posting. Two levels of following exist:
Following the Overall User: Any time a particular user posts anything on Pinterest, it will show up on your newsfeed.
Following an Individual Board: Any time something new is pinned to that specific board, it will show up on your newsfeed.
Pin: This is an image added to Pinterest using the “Pin It” button. Pins are generally uploaded from your computer or from a URL. A pin can be an image or a video. Pins typically link back to the site that they originate from.
Pinboard (aka Board): A board is a themed collection of pins. Pinners can create as many boards as they wish and as many categories as they can think of. Boards can be edited at any time.
Pinning: This is the act of adding an image to a board.
Pinner: This is a user who shares content on Pinterest.
Repin: This is the act of reposting another Pinterest user’s image to one of your own boards (similar to retweeting).
Once the pinners were selected, Honda uploaded personalized posters to individual boards within the company’s profile. Honda also had the pinners create their own #Pintermission boards and add Honda as a collaborator.
The results from this initiative were astounding, primarily because these five “chosen” pinners were so influential within the target community.
The #Pintermission boards attracted more than 4.6 million visitors, resulting in more than 5,000 repins and nearly 2,000 likes. The campaign was so popular that it migrated to Twitter, resulting in hundreds of tweets and generating more than 16 million media impressions.
Watch John Watts, Honda’s head of digital marketing, discuss why the campaign was so successful: http://bit.ly/HondaPintermission.
These types of campaigns illustrate that contests can be powerful draws using Pinterest if they are executed correctly. They create a more engaged fan base, broaden a brand’s online reach, and foster longer-term relationships.
Younger users are typically a rich resource for what’s hot and what’s not. In fact, much of the success that the company UsTrendy has realized is because founder and CEO, Sam Sisakhti, implements the social platforms his interns use. So, when his interns started praising Snapchat, he took notice.
As noted throughout, not every organization needs to have a presence on every social media platform. Even fewer need to be on Snapchat. However, if your business is targeting younger consumers falling in the thirteen-to-twenty-four age demographic, you might want to pay attention.
Snapchat has now become a mainstream social platform with more than 160 million daily active users. Recently the company has taken measures to evolve and respond to the market. Perhaps not surprisingly, these users are considered highly engaged, with the majority of users consuming every post that is available.
With an average commitment to the app of twenty-five to thirty minutes every day, it is no wonder that Snap commands the attention of 41 percent of the eighteen-to-thirty-four age demographic. In order to rise above the rest on Snapchat, content must be creative and fun and actively engage the audience.
Here are a few examples of top brands investing time and creative efforts into developing a strategy around Snapchat
X-Men: X-Men committed a considerable effort to promote the release of the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse movie. Not only did they create all of the sponsored filters for the event, but every filter available on Snapchat during the day of the release was X-Men related.
Even though the analytics are not yet available for this effort, it is estimated that this initiative may have received upwards of 1.5 billion views! Not too shabby!
World Wildlife Fund: Using the creative #LastSelfie hashtag campaign, the World Wildlife Fund leveraged Snapchat to raise awareness specific to numerous endangered species.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: One of the most innovative Snapchat campaigns to date came from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical.
Below is a screenshot from the Facebook page of the musical, which entices fans to find the “hidden” Snapchat geo filters that have been hidden all over New York City. If a fan finds one and sends the account a snap, they can win free tickets, goodies, and more.
Major League Soccer: The professional soccer league devoted an entire week to its Snapchat “takeover,” an instance when another person or organization takes over a Snapchat account.
Within this promotion, MLS turned over the responsibility of the MLS branded Snapchat account to a different star from the league over the course of a week.
In the days leading up to the “takeover,” each MLS star promoted the event using his own social media account and then engaged with fans using creative, fun activities and content using the MLS account on his day. With this in mind, a “takeover” could potentially be a great way to build and enhance a Snapchat following.
As with most social platforms, with growth come changes. Recently CEO Evan Spiegel revamped the app to clearly separate interactions between friends from the items users read. Snap conversations and a user’s friends’ Stories are on the left, and content from companies, the public, and curated Stories are on the right.
Why this big change? Well, Spiegel said, “The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media.
We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.”
By splitting the feed, Snapchat can continue to benefit from algorithms, but it has also made a commitment to users. Those on the app can find the content they truly want to engage with, something Facebook and Twitter struggles to deliver currently.
And according to blogger Pete Pachal, Snapchat also has “a curated set of media and real editors, which help insulate it from the worst evils of socially driven content, like false stories going viral.”
The Chitchat of Snapchat
Snap—when used as a verb, refers to taking a picture or video with Snapchat and sending it to another individual. Snap, when used as a noun, refers to the actual picture or video that is received from another user. Snaps cannot be viewed for longer than ten seconds.
Stories—collections of snaps that are specifically added to the story and are available for twenty-four hours.
Filters—applied to a snap after it is taken to change the snap’s appearance. Filters have also been added to allow users to show their location, their speed, or the time or temperature when the snap was taken. Video filters have also been added that recognizes an individual’s face and create fun videos.
Geofilters—special overlays for snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations.
Replay—a feature that allows a user to view a snap again. The replay feature can only be used once a day.
Front-Facing Flash—allows a user to snap in the dark using a front-facing camera by lighting up the screen while taking a snap.
Best Friends—a list that Snapchat creates of the friends with whom you exchange the most snaps. The number of best friends shown can be adjusted using the settings.
Snapstreak—used to highlight when you have snapped a person back and forth for two or more days. If one person does not send a snap within twenty-four hours, the streak will break. The Snapstreak is represented by a flame emoji next to the friend’s name.
Trophy Case—gives users virtual trophies that can be unlocked when they achieve a goal on Snapchat. Examples of goals that unlock trophies are sending a video snap, using a filter on a snap, and reaching a 10,000 Snapchat score.
Snapchat Score— the total number of snaps that a user has sent to friends. Friends can see the score and compare their own.
Discover—a feature that allows users to see stories from news outlets or locations around the world. ESPN, Comedy Central, the Food Network, CNN, and other outlets supply interactive snaps with users and can keep users up to date with things that apply to the outlet.
Social Networks: The Platform/Social Networking Sites: The Channel
Loyalty is the foundation for successful relationships. The connection between a business and its customers is no different. Customers who are loyal to a specific brand, product, or service tend to stay loyal throughout their lives.
They even become brand champions and look for ways to share their love of a brand with others. The dynamics between a customer and a business have created an ever-evolving relationship that promotes and fosters loyalty.
People connect with brands on social networks using various social networking sites because they want to learn something about a brand, share valuable content with others, define who they are, grow and cultivate their online relationships, and support causes that resonate with them. Social media campaigns help businesses accomplish these goals while also building brand and company loyalties.
Selecting the correct social platform to promote a business and incorporating the necessary elements that make sense is also core to building a successful social strategy or campaign.
Genuine, authentic interactions with consumers can be a company’s best asset for enhancing relationships and expanding a brand. Social networking sites are easy, available channels for customers to reach out to a brand and, in turn, for a company to respond.
Flatliners Attempts to Create Buzz before Box Office Debut Research/Diagnosis
To create buzz and drive box office sales prior to the remake of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 cult psychological thriller/horror Flatliners, Sony Pictures launched an all-immersive social media campaign.
In the month leading up to the premier, Sony Pictures engaged fans on just about every platform—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and even Spotify.
The objectives of the campaign were to:
Create a connection for original fans and entice new fans to embrace the reboot
Drive popularity and support for the launch of the film
Increase the engagement by fans in the various social media channels
Hit record sales by moviegoers for opening night
To meet the objectives, it was critical that Flatliners rise above the clutter and noise often found on the social sphere to not only bring back original fans but create a new fan base. To that end, Sony Pictures attempted to generate excitement and media attention by implementing a campaign that relied heavily on social media.
Sony Pictures attempted to grab the attention of moviegoers by implementing these specific initiatives:
Owned/Shared: By creating content on specific Flatliners social media accounts, fans could share and take part in the campaign. Movie trailers were posted on Instagram and Twitter, while a special Snapchat filter was developed allowing users to share their live experience virtually.
According to Rachel Grate, “Snapchat is ideally suited to drive the sense of FOMO (‘fear of missing out’) that spurs ticket sales and buzz.”
The social promotion did not stop there. Sony Pictures also worked with Spotify to create the “Pick Your Pulse” Spotify playlist. The social media post read: “Find the perfect playlist that matches your heartbeat with the #FlatlinersMovie, ‘Pick Your Pulse’ @Spotify playlist! http://pickyourpulse.com.” Finally, all posts used the hashtag #FlatlinersMovie to unify the conversation across all channels.
Earned: Nina Dobrev, who plays the character, Marlo, made the rounds by appearing on late-night television to promote the movie. Jimmy Kimmel posted a photo of himself with Dobrev on his Twitter account with a shout-out using the movie’s hashtag, #FlatlinersMovie.
Owned/Shared: Sony Pictures also launched sweepstakes to win tickets to the Flatliners premier in Los Angeles. The posts were shared on Twitter with directions to enter to win.
Owned: A short movie trailer was created and distributed to media and posted on various social networking sites approximately four weeks before the premiere to pique interest and coverage. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1S52y5ZVlY.
In the four weeks leading up to the premier, Sony Pictures consistently posted on the movie’s social media accounts multiple times per day. Some posts garnered several thousand likes, comments, and shares.
Unfortunately, not all campaigns are successful. Despite the enormous effort to promote the Flatliners reboot, critiques of the film were devastating. Movie critic Adam Nayman from The Ringer called the movie an “agonizingly dull remake,”
while Glenn Kenny from the New York Times wrote that the movie was “just meh.”
Box office sales were dismal too. “Flatliners essentially flatlined this weekend, earning just $6.7 million in its opening weekend. Even for a cheap horror film, that’s terrible, and at $19m (double the budget of Split) it’s not exactly a cheap horror film.”