Jolly Old St. Nick may be a luddite of sorts (as far as we know, he still employs an old-fashion sleigh and a generous dose of magic to get most of his work done) but that doesn’t mean he can’t teach you a thing or two about how to use social media. Here are some tips, straight from Santa’s Workshop, to help you out in the final stretch towards Christmas.
It Takes a (Christmas) Village
Santa doesn’t do it all on his own. He has an entire workshop of elves working full time to help him out. In the same way, it’s important to get everyone on your team thinking about the ways they can maximize your business’s presence on social networks. Customer service representatives can field incoming questions, while marketing associates can be on hand at events live-tweeting or uploading pictures to Instagram. As long as all efforts are connected to an overarching strategy led by a dedicated user, there’s no reason to fear too many cooks in the kitchen. Assign one person to be the dedicated user. They'll be responsible for filtering content and making sure the overall message is cohesive while the other elves work away.
It Doesn’t Pay to be Naughty
A good social media strategy is all about transparency, but when you’re being honest and open, it can be hard to conceal your flaws. In an age where your customers know more about you than ever before, it pays to be nice--not naughty. Throwing an epic tantrum online every time something doesn’t go your way is a sure ticket to getting coal in your stocking.
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, He Knows When You’re Awake
Okay, so that particular line has always struck us as more than a little bit creepy, but it does shine a light on an important aspect of your social strategy: monitoring. If you’ve built a strong online presence on your social networks throughout the year, don’t be surprised to see an uptick of traffic during the holiday season. That’s because more people are doing online shopping than ever before. Just take a look at this year’s blockbuster Cyber Monday sales. The holidays are an essential time to keep a closer eye on your social networks because customers expect you to answer questions about things like shipped packages and special deals. Ignoring questions on social media is a sure way to encourage customers to move on.
Keep an Open Ear
You can walk into any mall in America and find an attentive Santa carefully listening, poised to grant holiday wishes as best he can. Listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Do they wish you had special holiday hours so they can sneak in some holiday shopping? Are they hungry for end-of-the-year deals? Like Santa, you may not be able to fulfill every Christmas list, but by carefully listening to your customers, you’ll have a better idea of what they really want from you.
The biggest lesson of all? Keep things jolly. It’s the holiday season, after all. It’s a time of year to make sure your customers know you’re grateful for them, so be generous and create special coupons, in-store events and exclusive deals to give something back! Only Santa Claus can go around the world in one night and grant everyone’s wishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to making the holiday season special for the people who support your business all year round.
Are you setting the table for a big feast today? You might be getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or both (Thanksgivukkah?), and that means after a day of cooking, greeting relatives and trying not to spoil your supper, you’ve got one thing on your mind: food.
Food is on our minds, too, and it’s not just because of the holiday season (although that certainly has our stomach growling in anticipation). Last week, culinary queen Martha Stewart’s food pics went viral, and not for the right reasons. Her shots are unsavory to say the least--a far cry from the perfectly presented dishes we typically associate with her brand. We love Martha, but posting pictures like these is most definitely a bad thing.
So where did Martha go wrong? Her strategy of sharing personal pics of food isn’t a bad one. In fact, from celebrities to the average consumer, sharing pictures of food online is a persistent trend in social media. Scroll through your newsfeed on any given day and you’re bound to catch a glimpse of a fancy home-cooked dinner spread, last Sunday’s epic brunch or a pastry so delectable it has to be seen to be believed.
From a marketing perspective, getting social with food can be a great idea. For food-related businesses that haven’t shied away from using the web to grow their brand, social media has been a tremendous boon. Just look at the way tech-savvy food trucks have flourished with the help of social tools. Food pics have become such an integral part of a business’s online presence that Yelp has even created visual menus based on user submissions.
Martha’s issue is really a matter of execution. The impulse to share food pics is great, but for a big brand that’s synonymous with lifestyle, good eating and perfecting homemade meals, the visual content has to be up to snuff. While the images she shared from her personal Twitter account provide some insight into her personal life, they’re also disconnected from the rest of her brand. That’s the kind of dissonance that fans and followers will readily point out on social media because, let’s face it, it’s kind of funny. People love to take down celebrities, especially if a big part of their persona is built around an image of staunch perfectionism.
What else can we learn from Martha’s mishap? The interest around her food pics reveals how far a consumer’s impressions of a brand can extend into the realm of social media. Why did so many people balk at her tweets? They’re expecting the same kind of content that they see on television or in cookbooks. Martha’s case also shows that when a person is their brand, as is the case with Martha Stewart, a personal Twitter feed reads as officially as anything else her company might produce.
What would you do differently if you were in Martha’s shoes? Is this a case of curating content more wisely? Or taking the time to explore what goes into creating great food photography through mobile devices? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” We don’t know if Einstein ever envisioned a world of digital information dominated by social media, but he may as well have been talking about marketing in the era of Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not embracing all the marketing tools the web has to offer, you may be playing it too safe. If the idea of making mistakes has you shying away from social media, check out these four common pitfalls.
Trying to be Everywhere at Once
Are you on every social media platform imaginable? It’s a good idea to have a presence on multiple networks, but don’t spread yourself too thin by thinking that you have to be everywhere at once! Instead, think about your target demographic and then discover which platforms your target audience is using the most. This article from Nonprofit Quarterly offers a great breakdown of some statistics surrounding social media and the types of users that can be found on each network. If you know information about your target audience, such as age or income, you can zero in on the social channels that these users are most likely to be engaging through.
Jumping In Without a Plan
Just like any other aspect of your overall marketing plan, your social media strategy needs to follow a plan. Social media is an incredible dynamic tool. Different organizations and businesses will harness its power in the way that best suits their needs. Before you start publishing and engaging with fans, ask yourself, “What can I do through social media that I’m not already achieving through other marketing approaches?” Some of your goals might include growing awareness around your brand, providing round-the-clock customer service online, or boosting revenue from your online store during the holiday season. Check out this list of the 12 Most Attainable Goals on Social Media to get the ball rolling.
Being a Broadcaster
Many marketers accustomed to traditional forms of communication may easily slip into this common pitfall. The old dynamic of publishing as a one-way street doesn’t work with digital marketing, so look for opportunities to improve engagement whenever you can. Using social media is as much about creating a space for customers to talk about you (and to you) as it is about you broadcasting information them. As part of your social media plan, you might consider setting some ground rules around how much of your content constitutes broadcasting and how much of it is geared towards maximizing engagement.
Measuring Too Much or Too Little
We’re living in an era where many decisions are built on big data, and many social networks have built-in tools that can give you great insight into the habits of your fans. Learning that most of your Facebook followers are from out of state might make you change the way you approach your business. Monitoring the type of content that garners the most engagement might also shape the kind of information you publish and ultimately help you grow your online following. But getting too bogged down with numbers can be detrimental to your overall strategy. On the other hand, tracking and logging every “like” and “retweet” is unlikely to yield any gains. Focus on tracking the outcomes that are most closely linked to your overall marketing goals and you’ll find it easier to parse out useful data from the white noise.Are you a veteran when it comes to using social media to grow your business? Or are you just starting to dip your toes in the water? In either case, there is always something to learn! Share your own stories of pitfalls you’ve encountered below.
We’ve all spent more time on Buzzfeed than we’d like to admit. Time traveling celebrities, seemingly endless parades of GIFs, more lists than you’ll ever know what to do with and lots of cats all contribute to Buzzfeed’s reputation as major timesuck. But if you think that Buzzfeed is just a place where critical thinking goes to die, it might be time to take a closer look. Here’s how Buzzfeed can inspire you to take your blogging to the next level.
We love lists. We love them so much we’re writing one right now. Suffering from writer’s block? Think of a topic that can easily be explained as a list. For example, “7 Reasons Why You Should Make Hotel Reservations With Us Before Thanksgiving.” Readers may not always have time for a lengthy essay, so it pays to keep things pithy. If you announce upfront that readers can get a lot of information in a quick way, you're more likely to get some clicks.
There is an undeniable appeal to Buzzfeed’s headlines. If you’ve avoided Buzzfeed before, it's a case study in creating the kinds of headlines that readers just can’t refuse. A prime example is “8 Facts You’re Better Off Not Knowing.” Do you feel temptation sinking in? Don't worry, so do we!
Buzzfeed is very visually driven, with short bits of text, multiple pictures and concise captions doing most of the talking. It’s a formula that works well for a generation of consumers that absorbs media quickly and then moves on. At the same time, Buzzfeed recognizes that readers might be looking for something more substantial from time to time. Longform articles satisfy a craving for more robust content that goes in depth. Mix it up on your blog to keep things varied. Not every post needs to be a comprehensive look at the topic of the day, but every blog post can’t be a handful of cat pics either!
At every turn, Buzzfeed provides its readers with opportunities to readily share content. Do you have clearly marked links on your own websites that help readers share your latest blog entries over Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr? If you make it easy for your readers to republish your work you’re more likely to see it reach new fans.
Know Your Audience
Do you know why your audience follows your blog? Buzzfeed knows its audience really well. Just check out this headline: 29 Things That are Way More Important Than Work Right Now. That’s the kind of content any serious procrastinator can really get behind! Are your readers active learners? Are they looking to be entertained while they’re sitting idle? Each demographic has different demands.
Do you find yourself drawn into Buzzfeed more often than you’d like to admit? Think back to some of the headlines that you just couldn’t resist. What keywords drew you there? Now, step back and remember that those powers of persuasion are also available to you. Don’t be afraid to put them into practice next time you step up to the keyboard.
Is it Halloween Eve or just change in general that has you spooked about the latest updates to creating promotions on Facebook? There’s no need to be scared! We’re here to walk you through it and help you find out how the new rules could benefit your business! But first...
Why Should I Care About Promotions?
Customers love promotions, and business owners can benefit greatly from them, too. Facing a dry spell on your Facebook page? Boost traffic and engagement by creating a special promotion. Looking to celebrate a milestone event in your business's history? Let your customers in on the celebration by creating a special giveaway. Gearing up for a big holiday season? Boost revenue with promotions that encourage your customers to choose you over your competitors.
How has Facebook Changed its Rules for Running Promotions?
1. You don't need an app for that. One day, your children's children will speak of a time when you needed to run Facebook promotions through apps. As they jump on their hoverboards to go to school, they’ll wonder how small business owners ever managed.
Facebook is moving past their apps requirement and will allow small businesses to run promotions directly from their pages. No separate apps required!
2. Rock the vote or rock the like? Running promotions directly from your own page lets you use “likes” as votes. You can also collect votes by having your followers message your business’s page, “like” a featured post or comment on a featured post.
3. Don’t tag if you’re not “it.” Although there are new and flexible ways to vote, don’t misuse the tag feature in order to collect votes. For instance, you shouldn’t ask followers to enter a contest by tagging themselves in pictures where they don’t actually appear.
4. It’s not personal; it’s promotional. As before, you shouldn’t run promotions for your own personal timeline. If you are running a promotion for your business, make sure that you are doing from your business’s Facebook page and not your personal profile.
5. Don’t dare to share. Sure, sharing is caring, but in this case it’s better not to dare to ruffle the feathers of the powers that be at Facebook, who won't take kindly to your breaking of this rule: Sharing content is great, but don’t encourage users to enter contests by sharing links to your promotion. As a general rule, keep things limited to your business page (see above).
6. You make the rules. When you roll out a promotion, the rules should be explicit and clear. If you forget to include something or make the rules broad enough that you end up with more winners than anticipated, the buck stops with you!
7. Don’t forget the small print. Every Facebook promotion needs to include a clause where you release Facebook of all responsibility and explicitly state that Facebook is not directly administering or supporting your promotion in any way.
Facebook Pages and scroll down to the “promotions” section. Don’t forget to check out this news update about running promotions as well.
Are you excited about running promotions through your Facebook page? Will the new rules encourage you to get in on the game just in time for the holidays? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
The gift-giving season is almost upon us and you know what that means-- it’s make or break time for a lot of businesses. If you don’t believe us, check out some statistics about holiday shopping from last year. Did you know that almost 20% of retail sales for the entire year happened during the holiday season? With a growing emphasis on online shopping, your business's digital presence is more important than ever. Are you prepared to come out of the holiday season a winner? Here are some tips to help you get there!
Create an Inclusive Calendar
With a slew of events, parties and holidays on the horizon, it’s a good idea to step back and get organized with a detailed holiday calendar. We’ve created a table with some important events here. It’s never a bad idea to include local events or holidays that are important to your community. When you’re trying to reach a broad audience, don’t forget the importance of being as inclusive as possible!
A holiday calendar can help you work backwards as you roll out special deals, gift guides, special in-store events, and more! Remember, it’s a highly competitive time of the year, so it pays to get an early start. Every business is vying for the attention of shoppers, so make sure you create periodic messaging that leads up to important shopping days like Black Friday.
Get Your Online Store Ready for Traffic
Are you as prepared online as you are at your physical location? Setting up your online store with updated pictures, offers and information about shipping during the holidays can help set you up for success. Online shoppers have the ability to easily compare competing businesses, so make sure that you highlight special deals wherever you can. Emphasize information that will make customers want to choose you every time.
Don’t forget to leverage the power of social media either. Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to direct your followers to your online store. Use social media to feature gift baskets, customer reviews and other special items that will encourage customers to browse through your other online offerings. Before you start encouraging traffic, make sure all your links are updated, so that users can easily navigate your store.
Man the (Social) Deck
With increased traffic at your stores and online, there are bound to be more customers reaching out to you. Don’t be surprised when users use Facebook and Twitter to contact you with questions, complaints, rants, raves or friendly holiday greetings! Instead, make sure you have a good monitoring plan in place, with a smart dedicated user keeping an eye out for red flags. The more quickly you handle that disgruntled customer who just tweeted about you, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to salvage the situation before it spirals out of control.
Are you altering your social strategy for the holidays? With many Americans getting ready to do a big portion of their holiday shopping before Halloween, there’s no time like the present to get started!
You should be thinking of your prospective customer from the moment you come up with your initial idea. Otherwise you won't be able to design a product! At each turn of product development, you should consider your customer. What would they find most helpful? How are other companies addressing this problem? Where are they succeeding or falling short?
The question of who to design for is very important. You need to ask yourself:
- Who has the money?
- What is their problem?
- How can I solve this?
Starting out with "Who has the money?" is the opposite approach of what most people do when they come up with an idea for a startup. Most startup ideas are born out of personal frustration. "Why can't someone come up with an easy way to.... Eureka!"
Some angel investors are willing to fund your startup simply because they share your frustration and would like to see your product make it to market. However, most investors want to see a solid business model and customer acquisition plan before they hand over a check. Make sure you're setting yourself up for success by starting with a plentiful market.
We made this fundamental mistake when we started Social Sonar. My father's loose leaf tea shop was the inspiration for our service to manage social media for busy small business owners. We figured out a way to offer basic services at a very low cost and began signing up sole proprietors.
We soon discovered that even $150/month was a stretch for most small business owners. Tracking sales from social media is not a very straightforward process, and most of our customers didn't have the ability to attribute sales to our efforts. We found ourselves struggling to prove the value of our services and began losing customers sooner than we had anticipated.
Eventually we realized larger businesses would better understand the value of being seen as a content expert and building a relationship with their customers; they also have the resources to analyze traffic sources and attribute sales accordingly. Read: they have more money.
We developed a higher-cost, more comprehensive offering for mid-sized businesses and have been more careful about who we sign up. Before we agree to provide services, we make sure they share the same goals and understanding of digital marketing we do. Our customers now stay with us longer and are more satisfied with our services.
Questions? Suggestions? Comment below or send us an email at email@example.com.
If you think you’ve figured out the social media game for good, we’ve got some news for you--social media can be a fickle friend. Your social strategy may be great today, but shifting trends, changing tastes and the arrival of new social networks can all change that very quickly! Here are a few signs it may be time to rethink your social media strategy.
“Is Anyone Out There?”
Has your number of followers plummeted? This is a sure sign that you need to take a look at your overall strategy. Fans might be jumping ship for any number of reasons (because your content is too repetitive, too impersonal or just plain annoying). Start with some research as to why people unfollow users on platforms like Twitter.
Your Customers Feel Ignored
Do you have angry customers coming into your shop or office wondering why you haven’t answered their tweets and Facebook messages? Customers hate being ignored whether it's online or in person. It’s time to rethink your social media platforms as an extension of the customer service experience you provide!
The Party Is Somewhere Else
If things seem dead, your most active users may have moved on to greener pastures. Are you still clinging to a dead social network? If your target audience is younger than twenty, you may want to invest more time and energy on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram, where teens and tweens are flocking to.
Your Website’s Traffic Isn’t What it Could Be
If you’re tracking visits to your business’s website and things are looking either lackluster or downright grim, you may not be leveraging the power of your social media platforms as well as you could.
You Haven’t Published a New Blog Post in Months.
Your Blogger account wants to know where you’ve been for the last couple of months! The readers who follow your regular posts are also hungry for more! If your content has dried up, it’s time to set up a better blogging schedule. A weekly schedule gives you time to come up with ideas, the chance to edit things properly before they hit the web, and enough lead time to keep publishing on time.
You’ve Got Hate Mail.
Yikes--talk about a red flag! If you’re getting e-mails and tweets from customers who are angry about your content, you may not know your audience as well as you think you do. Remember that reaching a broad audience might mean keeping polarizing opinions to yourself.
You’re Not Focused on Visuals.
Visual social media is dominating networks, so if you’re still relying purely on text to carry your message across, it’s time to bust out the camera! Flashy profiles with lots of high definition images are sure to attract more attention, especially fans who follow you through their mobile devices.
Are you in a rut when it comes to your social media strategy? You can never go wrong with increasing your engagement, answering questions promptly, sharing more of yourself and sharing a good variety of high quality content. How have you reinvigorated your social strategy over the past few years? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
The holidays are fast approaching. If you haven't done it by now, you should create a marketing plan outlining your approach to each of the following 2013 shopping holidays.
|Day||Date||Major Holiday||Secondary Holiday|
|Sun||11/3/2013||Daylight Saving Time ends|
|Thu||11/28/2013||Thanksgiving Day||First Day of Hanukkah|
|Thu||12/5/2013||Last day of Hanukkah|
|Sat||12/7/2013||Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day|
|Sat||12/21/2013||First Day of Winter|
|Thu||12/26/2013||Kwanzaa (until Jan 1)|
|Tue||12/31/2013||New Year's Eve|
Last week we shared the story of Holly, who earned the title of “Most Remarkably Kind Flight Attendant in the World" with a little help from social media. It’s a case study in how a company of any size can seize on an online interaction and turn it into an exciting and memorable real-life marketing opportunity.
Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to be a huge company like Southwest Airlines to pull off a well-executed display of marketing savvy. Let’s take a look at some lessons learned from Holly’s story and how you can make Southwest’s approach work for your own business.
Monitoring is Key
Without good monitoring, it’s hard to see how Southwest could have concocted the plan to meet Holly and her admiring passengers at the gate. A sharp eye towards their ever-changing Facebook page helped them spot Rowland’s message in time to craft a response. Having constant awareness of online conversations about your business opens the door to creating personalized interactions, so make sure you have a comprehensive monitoring strategy in place.
Putting Out Fires is Only Half the Job
Dealing with disgruntled customers through social media is an important aspect of your social strategy, but don’t become so concerned with negative interactions that you forget to build on positive ones. Sometimes you need to put out a fire, but other times it’s important to sow the seeds of your next great customer experience. Look for opportunities to grow small interactions into lifelong relationships!
Response Time Matters
Without a rapid-fire response from Southwest Airline’s marketing team, Holly and her passengers would have likely been safely back home and sound asleep by the time someone got around to checking Facebook. Besides good monitoring, responding quickly also means going with your instinct, cutting through red tape, and trusting that you already have the resources to wow your customers with your creativity.
Little Details Go a Long Way
One of the best things about the story of Holly and her passengers is the detailed response they received from Southwest Airlines. They created special sash for Holly and presented her a giant commemorative cookie. Southwest even took Rowland up on his offer to sign a contract he himself had stipulated in his original Facebook post. That kind of thoroughness will leave your customers with little doubt that you are really listening to them!
How have you managed to create real life surprises for your customers that follow you online? Chances are, if you have, it’s had a big ripple effect, as delighted customers share the story and become evangelizers for your brand. At the end of the day, there’s no better ambassador for your business than a satisfied customer.