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Using Social Media to Recruit Employees

Social Sonar - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Like promoting your business to potential customers, using social media to recruit employees seems like a no-brainer. LinkedIn was specifically created to help users maintain professional connections. And, if almost a billion people are using Facebook, then why not use the site for finding potential employees?

On one hand, having access to these sites has the potential for introducing your company to so many more qualified applicants than a traditional employment ad in a newspaper. There are concerns about using such sites, however.

David Wilkins, Vice President of Taleo Research, a talent management consulting group, warns that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook might not necessarily represent of the overall candidate pool. Taleo Research found only five percent of African Americans use LinkedIn, which is less than half of the U.S. African American population. LinkedIn users are also slightly older than those who use social networks like Facebook and Twitter. “If you rely too heavily on these social approaches, you are looking at challenges of discrimination on the basis of age, race and more,” Wilkins said.

Diane Pfadenhauer, President of Employment Practices Advisors, also warns that viewing someone’s Facebook account before making a hiring decision could pose a risk of lawsuits: “You may find something [on their Facebook profile] that is a protected characteristic like their religion or sexual orientation — something that is not visually apparent. Even if you don’t use it as a basis for employment, people may accuse you of that.”

Accuracy is another concern Pfadenhauer said, so she encourages business owners is to "Google with caution." Just because you find a profile or information with your applicants’ name doesn’t mean it’s true, or even the actual person you are searching for. “An Internet image can be created, corrected and fixed,” she said. “Make sure if you are doing a background check it is with a legitimate company that has insurance.”

Recently, a trend began as employers started asking potential employees for the passwords to their social media profiles as a condition of employment. This has caused some states to introduce legislation, which would make it illegal for potential employers to invade an individual's privacy in such a way.

As we continue to adjust to the influx of personal information being shared in this digital age, having access to social media sites for recruitment purposes seems like both a blessing and a curse. How does your company handle using social media sites in relation to potential employees?

 

Grow Your Business With Social Media

Social Sonar - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There are many conflicting reports about growing your business using social media. Some will say that you can't expect to make money with social media, and that you should only hope to increase brand recognition. Others will say you might expect to make money, perhaps if you commit some of your marketing budget to ads on sites like Facebook. Some recent reports are confirming that you can, in fact, grow your small business and make money using social media sites.

In March 2012, the Altimeter Group released a report called The Rise of Digital Influence, which claims to be "a 'how two' guide for businesses to spark desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence." One section of the report talks about the ripple effect and how word of mouth becomes influence: "Resonance is a result of reach and relevance and determines how long something stays alive in the stream before attention dissipates. This is important because social media is a noisy world, and without resonance, conversations evaporate quickly. As the activity that results from influence campaigns is not only measurable, it reveals elements of resonance that can be optimized. In order to measure outcomes as a brand, they must first be designed into the strategy and accounted for in the supporting metrics. What we learn here is that influence isn't inherent in an absolute score; it's measured through actions and words. Brands that get it will design, pilot, learn and repeat."  In other words, as we have stated before, although many businesses are looking for ad campaigns that have immediate results and increased sales, in social media, slow and steady wins the race. 

Market Force recently surveyed 12,000 people in the US and UK, ranging in age from 18 to 65 years old (75% of respondents were women).  They found that 81% of US consumers are influenced by their friends' posts on social media sites. They also found that 78% admitted to being influenced by the companies they follow on social media, which suggests that well-crafted posts can drive sales to a business. The report also showed that 79% followed businesses in order to have access to discounts and other incentives; 70% were interested in details on sales and events; and 28% simply enjoy sharing their favorite things with friends. Keep in mind that these statistics are somewhat industry-specific. Consumers followed restaurants 86% of the time and retail businesses 75% of the time; however, only 13% followed companies in the Financial Services industry. 

Have you determined which posts help drive traffic to your business? Tell us about your favorite social media "ad campaigns." 

The Future of Facebook

Social Sonar - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Facebook logoFor the past few weeks, we've been intensely inundated with information about Facebook: its IPO, acquisition of Instagram, user satisfaction, etc. It feels like most of the sentiment has been largely negative, with people talking about how Facebook has ruined users' lives, is a fad, etc.

Some people think Facebook is a dying technology that had its place in the sun and is now withering there. I want to remind people that the same used to be said about email. Just as email is no longer a safe haven from advertisers and spam, it still plays an important role in our lives. Facebook will likely take the same route.

With the IPO, Facebook is going to need to make money, and will likely get more aggressive with ads. We can't fault Facebook for needing cash. Supporting a system that size, storing sentimental photos, instant status updates, bug fixes to prevent security hacks, and mobile development costs money. More aggressive advertising tactics are going to ruffle the feathers of a lot of users, but they are unlikely to switch off the network completely.

The switching costs of finding a new network are too high for people to abandon Facebook. Not only would users have to start building a new history on a new network, but they would have to convince friends to join them there, as well. It's one of the key reasons people have not switched over to Google+.

So here is my prediction:

  1. The number of Facebook users will continue to grow.
  2. Users are going to grumble about more aggressive ad tactics, and some will begin to use other social networks, but they will not abandon Facebook completely.
  3. Marketers will need to continue to optimize their Facebook tactics to create genuine interactions with their brand, both to save money on paid ads and to cut through the clutter.

No matter how people feel about Facebook, let's remember the social network is literally making history, not only with its outrageous $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, but one of the world's largest IPOs with a first-time CEO who just began his journey eight years ago. He and three employees at Facebook are now the youngest billionaires in the world.

By all accounts, Zuckerberg is kicking ass.

How Do You Find Social Media Content?

Social Sonar - Monday, May 14, 2012

We have often talked about the importance of the interesting content when it comes to social media.

Check out our past posts on blogging, e-mail newsletters or communicating using social media sites.

Whether you want to post "interesting and engaging content" once a day or once a week, where do you find all of this info?

Just Google It

The easiest way to find content is to "Google it" (enter a search term into any internet search engine). You don't have to hand-craft all the content you post. Most search engines have a news tab, which you can also limit to any stories posted within the previous 24 hours. BAM! You have the most recent news stories about your industry.

For example, if you are a jewelry business, you can search for new and interesting pieces or stone cuts to share on your Facebook or Twitter page. If you own a restaurant, you may want to use some current news piece about a salmonella outbreak to write a blog and explain why your restaurant is a cut above the rest in cleanliness.

Ask the Experts

If you receive newsletters from other companies in your own industry, you may be receiving a daily list of interesting content you can easily share on your own social media profiles. The work is almost done for you! You may even check out posts from your competitors to inspire items you post on your own page.

Go Where the Action Is

Some of the most shared content comes from aggregation sites, which pull together the most interesting content people find. Our favorites include Digg and StumbleUpon. For shorter posts with more visuals, we love 22 Words.

Choose a TrendStay Current

If you're looking to take advantage of what is trending at this very moment on Twitter, you can always check out the "Trending" area on your profile. If you're having trouble figuring what something is, or why the heck it's trending, check out What the Trend. It has handy explanations of why things are showing up.

Finding content to post to your social media profiles does not have to take up hours of your time. Although you do also want to have items specifically related to your business, posting about broader industry-related topics is absolutely acceptable as well. It is a quick and easy way to keep your profiles fresh with content.

Where do you find content for your social media sites? We always love hearing your unique and creative ideas!

Is Social Media Included In Your Marketing Plan?

Social Sonar - Monday, May 07, 2012

According to a survey by Forrester.com, even though 92% of those polled agree that social media has "fundamentally changed how consumers engage with brands," only 49% of marketers have "fully integrated" social media into their marketing strategy. Have you included social media in your marketing plan?

Here are four tips for successfully including social media in your marketing plan:

Choose Your Platform Wisely

There are so many social media sites. Choose yours wisely. We have discussed various popular sites in many of our blog posts and recently touched upon some smaller sites HERE. The big sites for many businesses are Facebook and Twitter. Other possible sites are YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr or Google+ (among others), depending upon your customer base. Don't waste time on all of these sites, however. Choose one at a time and test the waters slowly. 

Utilize E-mail Newsletters

It is essential to include links to your website, Facebook fan page, Twitter profile and other social media pages in your newsletter. You can also highlight upcoming specials and events. Newsletters are great because e-mails can be saved and read when your customer has a few minutes. Often posts on social media sites can get lost in a busy news feed, so reiterating certain posts in a newsletter is important.  

If you missed our previous post on e-mail newsletters, you can read it HERE.

Create Events on Facebook

Do you have an open house or other special event coming up? Create an event on Facebook! It is a fast, easy and FREE way to invite your fans to your store (make sure you include the Facebook event link in your newsletter). You can store photos, websites, or other information important for the event all in one location. You can also encourage fans to invite their friends (perhaps you can offer a discount or special for those guests who arrive first).

Read our previous post about fundraising events using social media sites HERE.

Content is Key

Whether we are talking about your website, your social media profiles or your newsletter, content is key. If you are not posting interesting and engaging information, your customers are not going to read your posts. Remember to engage your customer in a conversation rather than selling to them. Your content should add value for your audience, and should not overtly sell anything, which makes people want to share it with their network as well. You can read our previous post about the disconnect between brands and consumers HERE.  

Keep in mind that building your brand using social media is a process.  Have you officially implemented social media into your marketing plan?  Tell us about it here!

 

4 Things You Need To Make Social Media Work

Social Sonar - Monday, April 30, 2012

Although most "experts" agree your business must incorporate social media of some sort into its marketing plan, you could spend days implementing the various suggestions being thrown out on the Internet. Here we talk about the four essentials of making social media work for you. 

1. Time

Building an empire does not happen overnight. Plan to invest some time in your social media marketing. You must have patience while you build a fan base and determine which strategies work best for your company. For some companies, posting photos works well. For others, it may be holding contests. For most, it is a combination of interesting photos, questions, contests and discount offers. The goal is to post items that compel your fans to re-share, which promotes your business. 

At the same time, you must choose your platforms wisely. Facebook is usually a given. Twitter is a close second. Past that, you may have to do a little digging into your customer base to figure out which other social media sites, if any, are worth your time, including Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, etc. There are many, many social media websites available. However, if the majority of your customer base is on Facebook and/or Twitter, you may not find that spending time on other sites justifies the cost. 

Ducklings in a row2. Consistency

You cannot post one status update to Facebook each month and expect to be flooded with new business. Over-posting is also a problem. You may need to experiment with how much you can post without frustrating your followers. Some experts recommend daily posting. Some will say weekly. Consistency, however, is key.

Use analytical tools to determine when users are most likely viewing your page, and then schedule certain posts to go up at that time. The majority of Facebook fans rarely visit a fan page again after they have "liked" it (likewise for followers on Twitter). Therefore, you need to post items at times they will show up in the news feeds of the most fans. If you are posting at odd hours, your fans may never see your posts. 

In addition, make sure there are some personal posts and responses to posts made to your page(s).  Only posting links to your website and products/service to buy can cause customers to no longer "like" your Facebook fan page or to un-follow you on Twitter. 

3. Money

Unfortunately, social media is no longer free. Sure, you can set up your fan page on Facebook or your account on Twitter for free. But to reach the friends of your fans and expand your presence, you have to spend time creating and responding to messages. You may also want to consider paid ads. Almost all of the big social media sites now offer them. 

In addition, if you are spending too much time monitoring your pages, your money could be well-spent hiring a social media management company, or buying software to help with the scheduling of your posts. 

4. Website

A Facebook fan page is not enough. Every business needs its own website. In fact, in order to help raise your ranking in any search engine, all of your social media pages should include a link back to your website.

Think of your website as a train hub station, with your social media accounts acting as the trains racing in and out of the station. At some point, all of those trains will need to come home.

Is your social media plan working for you? Using social media to promote your business doesn't have to be painful. If you are struggling to find the time to build a successful social media plan, give Social Sonar a call!

The Next Big Thing in Social Media

Social Sonar - Monday, April 23, 2012

With Facebook racing toward a billion users worldwide and other sites like Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest boasting millions of log-ins per day, why would we need another social media site? Although today many believe Pinterest is the "next big thing" in mainstream social media, tomorrow, it may be another site.  Some people seem overwhelmed with the amount of information offered on larger social media sites. Enter smaller, specialized social media websites.  

Take Martial Village. Their "dream is to promote the martial art lifestyle - which covers health, fitness, yoga, diet we will do that with stories reflecting the martial art lifestyle." They also help instructors, trainers and coaches connect with potential clients. This allows people to talk about what they love, without other friends or followers getting tired of their constant posts about martial arts. 

There are many social media sites for runners.  For example, Runner's Lounge or Breaking The Tape cater specifically to those who want to mingle and compare stats with other runners.  Managing a profile on such a site might be beneficial if your company sells athletic gear or protein supplements.  

Specialty sites are not only for the health-minded.  Scrapbooking Society offers a safe haven for those who love all that is artsy and crafty.  Must Love Wine allows you to connect socially with other wine lovers. 

While your business is mostly likely best-suited to stay on the big sites like Facebook and Twitter, if your business serves a smaller niche, you may want to consider joining specialty social media sites to promote your company.

Do you already subscribe to any non-mainstream social media sites?  If so, tell us about them!

Social Media: Secret Sales Department

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Benjamin in DisguiseThe #1 thing every business wants from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and blogs is money, either from current customers or returning ones. Measuring the effect of your blog, email newsletter, and Facebook and Twitter accounts without coupon codes is a nearly impossible task.

There is compelling evidence social media helped you make sales, whether you realized it or not.

Influence Purchases

When someone searches for your company on Google, some of the links that normally show up in the search results are your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp pages. The searcher may decide to make a purchase based on what they see on these sites, whether your realize it or not.

One of our customers is a chiropractor who used to rely heavily on Yellow Pages. He had a new client come in and cite Yellow Pages as her source for finding the business. During the course of her appointment, however, she admitted to reading his recent blog posts, and they helped her make the final decision to use his services.

Add Legitimacy

A few years ago, it wasn't guaranteed every business had a website. Almost all business owners now realize the importance of having a website to allow customers to find them. A Facebook page and Twitter account are just as important now as a website was then. Having these pages shows your business is up-to-the times, and thus thriving.

Expand Your Presence

People love to share what they are doing, where they are going, and the coolest new things they found. People often tag businesses in posts. If you don't have a Facebook page or Twitter handle, you're missing out on free word-of-mouth advertising. On the converse, the ability to be tagged in posts allows your current customers to easily introduce new, potential customers to your business.

One of our customers owns a loose leaf tea store. His customers often mention his Twitter handle in their tweets and tag his Facebook fan page in their posts as a way to brag about going to his store or post a picture of themselves enjoying his tea.

Raise Your Rank and Reduce Paid Marketing Costs

Having a higher search engine ranking naturally leads to more sales and cheaper Cost Per Click. The higher your natural search rank is on Google, the less you pay for AdWords bids. Thankfully, your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all raise the ranking of your website for better visibility and more sales.

The simple truth is customers now increasingly expect you to have a social media presence. Whether your efforts on these platforms yield sales all depends on how active you are and how often you engage your customers.

Social Media in the News

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

 

1) Facebook has purchased photo-sharing software company, Instagram, for 1 beeelion dollars. In his official announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg says, “For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.” Link to Story.

2) On Saturday, Quebec juice maker Lassonde was forced to settle a lawsuit after intense online backlash. After the details of the Lassonde’s 7-year trademark battle with a tiny beauty company over the use of the name “Oasis” went viral, a social media uprising gave the “juice giant” a big reality check. Link to Story.

3) Google has beaten out Apple, Facebook, and Twitter for the title of Most Popular Tech Brand. According to the poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, a whopping 82 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Google overall, while 53 percent hold a "strongly" favorable opinion of the expansive Internet company. In regards to favorability, Apple still came in a close second. Link to Story.

4) A New Study has pegged Pinterest as the #3 Social Media Website

Experian Hitwise has collated website visitors for the last month, and ranks Pinterest as the number 3 social media website, behind Facebook and Twitter, and just ahead of LinkedIn. Here are the top 6:

1. Facebook: 7 billion
2. Twitter: 182 million
3. Pinterest: 104 million
4. LinkedIn: 86 million
5. Tagged: 72 million
6. Google+: 61 million

Link to Story.


Guest Blogging, Part 2

Social Sonar - Saturday, April 07, 2012

Last week we briefly discussed the benefits of guest blogging, and why it's important in light of new search engine algorithms. This week, we'll discuss the specifics of how to become or utilize a guest blogger.

How do I become a guest blogger?

Here are some of the steps that Liz Strauss of Successful-Blog.com suggests:

1. Search for a blog that relates to your niche or your interests. Perhaps you like to write about fashion. So, you look for fashion blogs. Be specific in your search. Perhaps you want to hone in on fashion for pregnant women.

2. Check to see if your blog of choice accepts guest bloggers. Some blogs have specific guidelines for guest bloggers. Make sure you understand what is expected of you.

3. Examine the blog to see if it seems to be a blog with high traffic. This can be difficult to ascertain. I like to look at comments, number of tweets and the amount of content the blog produces. I check to see if I can see a pattern in the number of posts per day/week.
Tip: You want to find a blog with decent traffic so that people will become familiar with your work. I’m not saying to never write for smaller blogs. But you should keep your purpose in mind.

4. Choose a topic that hasn’t been covered on the blog. Try to aim for a unique angle. For instance, with my pregnancy fashion example, you could write a post about swimsuits and cover-ups that flatter that baby bump.

5. Write the post.

6. E-mail your post to the blog’s owner. Most blogs will have a contact page, where you can find an e-mail address.

7. Wait one week, and respond with a follow-up e-mail if you don’t hear anything. Your short, simple follow-up e-mail could read as follows:
I wanted to make sure you received my guest blog post “Flattering That Baby Bump At The Beach.” I sent it on Wednesday, June 12. Will you be able to publish it?
Tip: You might want to attach your post again in case it has been overlooked. It will save your contact the time of having to ask you for your blog post and waiting for your response.

8. Wait another week. If you still don’t hear anything, use that guest blog post on your blog, pitch it to another relevant blog or use it for article marketing.

What if I want someone to guest blog for me?
Come up with a set of parameters for your potential guest bloggers. As an example, popular blog, Addicted2Decorating (http://www.addicted2decorating.com/advertise-with-a2d), has a great guest-blogger policy. Then, put the call out. Be sure to use all of the social media channels available to you, as well as your local business connections to find potential bloggers.

Is there way to track the benefits of guest blogging?

Yes, actually. There are now tools available that can help you to make sure your links aren’t tampered with after the fact and track things like Facebook likes generated by your blog post.