Problem : How to use social media effectively in building/developing a brand?
Learning objectives :
- Social media? Channels -> how to choose the most effective platform for your company?
- How to measure the impact of social media
- How to apply social media
It is commonly suggested that to increase your brand presence, you need to be active on all forms of social media. While that may be true, unless your company has a dedicated social media coordinator, finding the time to maintain every platform out there can be extremely time consuming.
If your company is just starting out on the Web and need to pick a few social media networks to rule over, here is our guide to choosing the best platform(s) for your business, and how to make the most out of them.
Who should use it: Everyone – from individuals to the largest multinational corporations
What to share: Start, join, and lead conversations; interact directly with brands and customers
Post frequency: Multiple times per day
Twitter is the dominant democracy of the social-sharing economy. Relevancy, personality and brevity are the keys to making your voice heard.
Useful tools: Buffer lets you stockpile and schedule content in advance. Tools like this allow for posting around-the-clock, increasing the likelihood of snagging followers beyond your country or time zone without being working 24/7.
It’s a guarantee by this point that a conversation relevant to your industry or business is occurring on Twitter. The only question: are you part of it?
Who should use it: Lifestyle, food, fashion, personalities and luxury brands
What to share: Share visual content, including short videos (less than 15 seconds)
Post frequency: Once a day
Instagram invites brands with visual content into their customers’ zone-out time. Create and post content accordingly.
You’ll want to experiment with your own userbase and followers, but it’s likely that the best time to target your posts will be to get to your audience’s eyes during their commutes, nights, and weekends.
Useful tools: While hashtags are clickable and useful for search purposes, links in comments and captions are not.
Instead, use the integrated sharing functions for Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter to repurpose your Instagram posts for more shareable media. Include a relevant hashtag to become more discoverable on Instagram and to track engagement across sites where you share the content.
Additionally, Followgram is a great tool for tracking your stats on the most liked and commented posts, along with top tags and locations.
Who should use it: Businesses (especially B2B service providers), Recruiters and Job-Seekers
What to share: Job-postings, company descriptions, employer/employee research
Post frequency: Two to four times a week
LinkedIn is the online analog to old fashioned networking. People – and connections to people – are everything
Keep a company description and profile page mindful of keyword SEO, but your network of employees and contacts is your most valuable (and potentially damaging) content on LinkedIn. Make sure people in your organization are appropriate, professional and on-brand. There’s nowhere online where employers and employees are more intimately linked.
Company seeking clients and individuals seeking employment should grow their LinkedIn networks by adding as many real connections as possible. Use your second and third-degree connections to request personal introductions (when reasonable), and weed out the Internet’s infinity of companies and applications, focusing on opportunities where you have some real connection.
Top tip: LinkedIn shares more about your own electronic creeping than any other network. Paid users can see who’s viewing their profiles.
If you’re researching a competitor or doing some preliminary job-seeking you’d rather your boss didn’t know about, try a Google search specifically for the LinkedIn page you want to see.
Who should use it: Everyone and their grandmas (literally)
What to share: All types of online content, events, ads
Post frequency: Once or twice a day
Consider advertising or paying to promote your page on Facebook, but don’t make your brand’s Facebook page itself look like an advertisement. Inspire conversations and shares – and be sure to ask questions.
Of all social networks, Facebook is best equipped to linearly share responses to a post asking a question or sparking conversation. Answers then appear in friends of your respondents, spreading the conversation.
Facebook offers personal connection and an enjoyable distraction amidst the work day, but use typically peaks outside of work hours. There’s no shortage of options for analyzing Facebook data. Track the success of your content by date and time to hone in on the best times for engaging your audience.
Useful tools: URL shortener Bitly does more than just shrink down links. Each time you convert a link, Bitly offers stats on clicks generated from that specific link, making it helpful to see how much traffic is brought directly from sharing to Facebook.
Who should use it: Brands already on the other major social networks, B2B networking, bloggers
What to share: More formal and professional than Facebook; Hashtags have major search value
Post frequency: Once or twice a day
As Google’s proposed alternative to Facebook, keywords and search engine optimization are central to the appeal of Google+. Link often to content on your own website to direct this search boost where you want it most.
Useful tools: Bloggers, set up Google Authorship to have your Google+ profile follow your content from across the Web in search results. More than any particular feature of Google+, users are enticed by integration with Google’s other products.
Case in point? Comments on this article’s next social network now link to Google+ accounts.
Who should use it: Brands with video content and ads, anyone giving explanations or sharing expertise
What to share: Short (less than 1.5 minutes) video content
Post frequency: Once or twice a week
Google treats its own well, and YouTube is the prime example of this fact. YouTube videos feature prominently in Google search results.
Keep this in mind when naming and describing videos, and direct people looking for insight or explanations within your industry topics to your brand’s page.
Useful tools: A subscription widget or link to your website can help convert single views into long-term influence.
Who should use it: Fashion, food, design, travel and anything DIY; audience skews female by 4:1
What to share: Creative, visual content
Post frequency: Multiple times per day
Users pin and re-pin posts to Pinterest Boards, which naturally push the content on Pinterest into categories. This makes easily-categorized content most apt for sharing, and wisely-chosen keywords essential to successful post captions.
Pinterest differs from other popular search engines in heavily favoring recent content. Pinning and re-pinning frequently is necessary to appear within current results for a given search term, regardless of how popular your content is.
Top tip: That stunning visual content on Pinterest? Undoubtedly the hard work of a designer, photographer or videographer. Technically, you’re only supposed to pin content you own or that’s within the public domain. Be sure to attribute your pins appropriately.
8. Yelp and/or Foursquare
Who should use it: B2C companies, brick-and-mortar outlets (especially stores, restaurants, and travel/tourism related), reviewers and bloggers
What to share: Location-based business search and reviews
Post frequency: Before your physical business opens and whenever information changes. Otherwise, at least weekly.
Share details about your business on an official company profile page. Monitor customer feedback related to your business, and respond to concerns raised in reviews. Consider it free promotion and advertisement (although paid promotions are also available).
Keep your information updated, and pay attention to keywords and SEO in crafting descriptions – Yelp listings in particular feature prominently in Google searches for local businesses.
On the consumer side of these B2C networks, reviewers and bloggers can use Yelp and Foursquare to grow their following. You can’t post a link in a review (Yelp with flag those and potentially suspend your profile), but you can develop a reputation for reliable reviews.
Top tip: Both Yelp and Foursquare users tend to glance, so it’s important to get as many high numbered ratings as possible to gain a positive first impression. Add a link to your blog or personal website under the profile section to capture additional readership.
MEASURING THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
In a nutshell, the Social Media ROI Cycle happens in three stages. The first stage is the Launch stage where organizations rush to get their social media campaigns up-and-running quickly. Typically, they create a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a Pinterest Board and a LinkedIn Company page very rapidly without thinking about their goals or their strategic approach.
The second stage of the Social Media ROI Cycle is the Management stage. In this stage, organizations re-visit their social media campaigns and realize they need to formalize their goals and their strategic approaches. (Ideally, they would have thought about goals and strategies before launching their campaigns. Unfortunately, most businesses rush to launch their social media campaigns first without thinking about goals and strategies.)
During the second stage, companies formalize the metrics around their social media campaigns. This includes tracking Facebook Likes, website visitors, Twitter followers and other quantitative metrics. As we’ll discuss in a minute, these metrics are almost meaningless if you don’t also track your social media ROI.
The final stage of the Social Media ROI Cycle is the Optimization Stage. Most companies don’t reach Stage 3 of the Social Media ROI Cycle because it involves tracking social media metrics while also doing A/B split testing to see which campaigns performed the best. The companies that do reach this stage ultimately test their way to success by dropping the campaigns that don’t work and keeping the campaigns that do work.
APPLY SOCIAL MEDIA
Whether you are operating a brick-and-mortar company, or a more tech-heavy startup such as my business, thoughtfully employing social media can help you increase your visibility, profits, and number of customers. One key is carefully linking your social media activity to your business strategy. How can you do so? Here are three pieces of advice:
1. Choose the right platforms and practices
It might be tempting to follow the social media trends that are considered “hot” in popular culture and jump on whatever platform is being talked about the most. Maximizing your social media use means choosing those platforms and practices that suit your core business strategy. For instance, it may or may not make sense for your company to update its Twitter account every hour; what works for another company may not have the same effects for yours.
One strategy could be to first determine which platforms your customers and leads use, and then build your social media presence with those outlets in mind so as to achieve predetermined and measurable business objectives. Even if revenue impact is hard to measure, you should have specific key performance indicators in place that will help you evaluate the extent to which you are doing a good job and generating meaningful value for your company.
In many cases, the objective of a social media strategy is to increase the reach and visibility of your company. Therefore, it would make sense to consider fostering a social media presence on most – if not all – of the major platforms to maximize those reach results. For instance, Facebook may be the largest social media platform, but Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram have the highest growth rates. Which outlets are likely to benefit your business most, both in terms of the users you’ll reach and how you do business? Twitter users, for example, often expect near-immediate responses when they mention a company. If you do not have the resources to answer quickly, Twitter (and other similar platforms) may not be ideal for your company’s social media strategy.
2. Set goals for your social media use
The location, purpose, and size of your business will naturally affect your social media goals. However, many companies use social platforms to:
- Increase referral traffic to their website
- Drive lead generation or e-commerce purchases
- Increase company credibility
- Demonstrate a corporate identity and culture that makes people more likely to want to work with as consumers or employees
- Increase the quantity of feedback that they receive from customers and leads.
- Offer an additional avenue for customer service interactions. Your clients may find it more convenient to compose a Tweet or write a Facebook post than to call or email you. It may even help them like you more. One survey found that 43% of customers are likely to recommend a product or service to others when that brand responds in a timely manner on social media outlets.
- Media outlets may even consider your online presence when deciding whether to feature your company in a piece. The stories that you portray of an exciting company through social media may help you connect with reporters and writers who are looking for interesting businesses to profile.
Whenever possible, track how your social media use influences your lead flow and customer conversion rate. Ultimately, good use of these platforms should be impacting your revenue and profit figures.
3. Take a systemized approach to content
Once you decide which social media outlets best fit your business strategy, you should develop a comprehensive plan for the content you will be posting. A systemized approach is key when developing your content plan, as this will allow you to maintain organization and consistency when sharing across your various social channels. Try to determine how frequently you will post, how you will quantify the results of your postings, and how you will attain maximum reach with your strategy.
To start, for instance, you should look into social media management tools, such as Hootsuite. These resources can be incredibly helpful for social media managers of any company, as they allow you to plan posts in advance and select only the specific channels through which you would like a particular message to be shared. This helps to keep your content plan less erratic and ultimately should assist you in engaging your target audience at the times of highest potential reach across all cohesive channels.
It is also highly recommended to create and maintain an ongoing editorial calendar for your content. Ideally, you should be able to look at the month or week ahead (depending on your business and particular social strategy) and have a clear view of when certain pieces of content will be published, as well as when you will share them on social media. Taking it day by day is not always wise, even if you are planning your posts one day in advance. That may help you for the short-term, but establishing and following an editorial calendar that stretches over a longer period of time can subsequently help your social strategy for the long-term.
Moreover, it is important to remember that you should present engagingcontent on social media. If you are only posting messages such as, “Check out our latest deals,” people will quickly tune out. Try to curate posts that are applicable to your product or service and that are interesting. The best content also encourages people to interact with your brand again. Take a company that sells shoes – it could post a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the design process for its latest model. Even content from other sources can work as long as it is relevant to your business strategy.
Whether your business relies on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or some combination of these or other outlets, the four words above – relevant to your business strategy – are key to a successful social campaign. By choosing the correct platforms and practices, identifying key goals, and planning your approach to content, you can ensure your use of social media supports your core business strategy.
1) Social Media Critical for Small Business
2) Facebook Dominates Small Business Social Media Marketing
3) B2B Small businesses use social media differently than B2C (B2B -> LinkedIn, B2C -> Facebook)
4) Most Small Business Marketers don’t know if facebook efforts are working
5) Small businesses identify increased exposure as SoMe’s top benefit
6) Increased traffic to website is nr 2 benefit of SoMarketing
7) SoMe cuts markting expenses for small businesses
8) Small Business direct social sales rise over time
9) Facebook dominates social media paid ads
Social Media Examiner’s seventh annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, a survey of 3,720 marketers : http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-trends-for-small-business/