Up Periscope

Find Your Funny, Find Your Followers

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not everyone is born with a funny bone, but flexing your comedic muscles every once in a while on social media is a terrific way to build your brand, gain followers and keep customers engaged. Afraid that you don't have what it takes? You don't have to be the next coming of Johnny Carson to succeed. Feeling like humor is too risky of a strategy? Staying on the sidelines might mean missing out on some memorable moments and great connections with followers. Here are 5 great reasons why it's worth it to get rolling with the LOL'ing.

It Strengthens Your Identity

Humor adds a whole new dimension to your brand. People may be following you for things like discounts or deals, but they also want special access. Your humor reveals important things about your own worldview, which opens the door to finding the followers that really relate to your mission and outlook. Joking with someone also creates a sense of familiarity. There's a reason why opening with a joke is referred to as “breaking the ice.” It immediately dissolves tension and shows that you don't take yourself too seriously.

You Become More Memorable

Users are much more likely to dismiss interactions that are purely transactional. A great joke or comment can stay with a user for a long time. That hearty chuckle you elicit from someone while they're stuck in traffic might be the thing that secures your place on someone's Facebook or Twitter feed.

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It Makes Your Content More Dynamic

Some messaging has to be serious to get the message across, but if you never alter your tone, your messaging becomes an endless drone. Break up the monotony by introducing humor.

You Become More Relevant

Topical humor is great! It shows that you're connected to the zeitgeist and have something to say about what's happening. Adding your voice to an ongoing conversation is always a good idea when it comes to making your presence known on social media platforms. Using humor makes you stand out even more in a sea of ever-changing commentary.

It Turns Followers Into Evangelizers

The person you make laugh today is the person who will be singing your praises tomorrow. Jokes are inherently viral. Once you hear something hilarious, you immediately want to share it. It only takes one look at a popular meme to show you how one funny idea can catch on like wildfire. If you're looking for retweets and shares, make sure you're bringing the funny.

Your own personal brand of humor takes time to develop. Get to know your audience and find out what they think is funny. Test the waters with a few zingers before you pull out all the stops. Most of all, don't miss out on a great way to grow your business by being too cautious or overthinking things. If you do, you might find that the joke is ultimately on you!

Facebook’s New Facelift and What it Could Mean for Your Business

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 06, 2013

By now, you've probably heard about the overhaul of Facebook's design. You may even be on the waiting list to try it out. Facebook has undergone major redesigns in the past, but this new wave of change signals a significantly different direction for the social media platform that could change the way users interact with it from here on out. Are you and your business ready for the changes headed your way?

As you may already know, a carefully crafted algorithm determines what's more likely to pop up on a user's feed. The more often users interact with you through Facebook, the more likely they are to see your content prominently featured in their feed. While the way that developing stories are prioritized in users' feeds isn't fundamentally changing, other updates could have an impact on your visibility.

The biggest and most obvious change is that images will be displayed in a much larger format. The new design is also consistent across various devices, which makes sense, since so many users are logging into Facebook from smartphones and tablets now. The move could be a shrewd attempt to recapture some of the younger demographic that has flocked to image-driven platforms like Instagram and Tumblr.

While ads have been a part of Facebook for quite some time now, you'll now have to compete with ‘super ads.' They'll be flashier, take up more space and have the potential to dominate attention if your own content is not up to snuff.

The new Facebook has been described as a personal newspaper, customized for users' personal tastes, so make sure that what you are putting out there is engaging, visually striking and valuable to your audience. The quality of content you create is paramount to gaining and retaining attention.

FB-like.pngWith such an emphasis on images, the new Facebook is more visually driven than ever. You want to ensure that images hold up in terms of quality, since they'll be much larger. Rich media like video will also be prioritized, so it's good to ensure variety and stay away from content that is solely text-based. Your cover photo will also act as your virtual calling card every time your business is “liked,” so it's important for it to be memorable and truly representative of your brand's identity.

Great interaction with customers will remain an extremely important aspect of using Facebook succesfully. It's more important than ever to connect with your loyal followers, since their interactions with you will spill over into their own friends' newsfeeds. The more you are engaged with people, the bigger role you'll play in their newsfeeds, so make sure you have the tools, time and manpower to answer questions and reach out to active users as much as you can.

As always, having a dedicated team developing and staying on top of your social media plan is crucial, especially when platforms change their look and function. You can trust us to stay on top of things and keep you one step ahead of new shifts so you don't get left behind!

3 Ways to Grow an Opt-in Email List

Social Sonar - Thursday, February 28, 2013

Growing an opt-in email list takes time. It is highly discouraged to buy an email list, since the people on it are not qualified, and more likely to mark your email as spam. Once too many people mark your emails as spam, service providers like Gmail will send your messages to the Spam box for legitimate recipients, as well. Here are some more fruitful tactics you can try.

email list1. Find a Partner.

If you want to reach a lot of people quickly, consider partnering with another business that has a larger opt-in email list. The joint email should be very clearly marked as a partner email so you can build upon the trust the recipients have with the existing brand. It should simply be presented as an introduction or a special offer for people on the list.

Ideally, you would create a special landing page for the people on the partner company’s list so there is continuity in the message. A special discount code never hurts, either.

2. Use Your Existing Customers.

If there are not any relevant companies willing to partner with you, you will need to build your own list. You should start by asking all of your current clients for their email addresses. If you already have their email addresses, you can send them an initial email asking if they want to receive regular email messages.

It is a good idea to send all optional email messages from an email address that is different from the address you used to send admin communications. This way, if the customer unsubscribes from the new email series, they can still receive notifications about system outages and updates, as well as billing information.

According to CAN-SPAM, since you have an existing business relationship with your customers, you do not need to ask for their permission to email them. However, to keep people from marking your email as spam and affecting your deliverability, you want to be sure you have their permission before you send a second one. This is known as a double opt-in, and is often a required step for legitimate email service providers like MailChimp and Emma. It also ensures that anyone on your list has chosen to be there, which should improve your deliverability in the long run.

3. Ask for New Email Addresses.

There are a number of different ways you can collect email addresses. If you have a physical location, the least painful way is to keep an iPad at the front counter or desk so people can sign themselves up. This saves the time of retyping and prevents having a paper sign up sheet where people can see each other’s email addresses; it protects your customers’ identity security. If you have to have a paper sign up sheet, ask your employee to keep it hidden until people need to sign up.

You can also ask people to sign up online. You should have an email sign-up form on your website, and preferably on your Facebook page, as well. Many of the most popular email service providers have a Facebook app that allows you to easily add a form to your profile.

It’s a good idea to let people know the type of content you will be featuring in your emails as an incentive to add their name to your list. You can also offer something for free in exchange for an email address, like an e-book, but it needs to be compelling enough for people to give up their real email address. Jay Abraham is doing a very excellent job with this. He gives away the transcripts for all of his books as a way of building his email list and developing a relationship with potential clients.

You can also ask for email addresses as a required field in live chats.

Slowly but surely, you will build a list of interested recipients. Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know.

3 Business Tools I Can’t Live Without

Social Sonar - Thursday, February 21, 2013

There are a number of tools I’m using these days to increase my productivity. I think other small business owners will benefit from them as well.

1. Google Apps for Business

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I have easy access to all my spreadsheets and documents no matter where I am. It’s ideal for sharing information if several employees are working with the same clients. I really enjoy the ability to limit who has access to the documents. It’s great for people who work in multiple locations throughout the day, including the office and later again at home.

2. Skype

Skype allows me to take calls from anywhere. I have our 1-800 number and Google Voice number redirected to my Skype phone so I never miss a call. I can have international phone calls for next to nothing. I record all my calls in case I ever need to reference them. I can also instant message my coworkers, which comes in handy if they encounter a roadblock and need an immediate answer to get working again.

3. Live Chat

My clients get answers so much faster by sending a chat than an email. Answering questions via live chat also reduces the number of inquiries waiting in my email inbox. It enables me to answer questions in real time so my clients feel valued; they’ve actually mentioned live chat as one of their favorite features, as well.

What are your favorite tools? Share them below!

9 Steps for a Successful Twitter Strategy

Social Sonar - Thursday, February 14, 2013
There’s no secret to Twitter success, just a few simple steps you should follow.

1. Create an account.

First, create a Twitter account and fill out all profile information. This will help other people find you and also get your Twitter profile ranked in search engines for relevant keywords.

2. Download TweetAdder.

Next download TweetAdder. At the time of this blog publication, a singl

e account is only $55, and it’s well worth the money. Other applications are free or cheaper, but they require a lot of manual upkeep. TweetAdder runs in the background while you work.

3. Set up your Auto Thank You.

Be sure to thank people for following and ask for their input. It is generally considered a faux pas to ask people to like your Facebook page as well, but you can direct people to your website for more information as long as it does not sound too sales-y.

4. Automatically Follow People Back.

There are two following mechanisms in TweetAdder: Follow and Follow Back. Both following mechanisms are set to stop when the ratio of following to followers reaches a certain point. The reason for this cap is to prevent your Twitter account from getting suspended. If you are following a ton of people and no one is following you back, Twitter assumes your account belongs to a spammer who is trying to get as many followers as possible. Keeping the ratio healthy ensures your account stays active.

Be sure the ratio is higher for Follow Back than Follow. You want to leave room to follow back people who choose to follow you. If you have already maxed out your following ratio with new people you searched for, you won’t be able to follow back people who find you. We like to leave auto follow back at 1.5 to 1.

5. Manually Search for Influencers.

Use the profile search to find people who would be interested in your business. You can search for a keyword included in their profile, like “mom” or “office manager”. Select people who have more than 1000 friends, or even more, if possible. If you are starting from scratch with 0 following, go ahead and immediately follow the first 20 profile matches. Be sure to adjust your ratio so you don’t max out right away. The default is 1.2 following to 1 followers, so you’ll need to temporarily set it to 20 to  1. After a few days, bring it back down to 5 to 1 so you don’t get flagged as a spammer. A healthy ratio after you have over 50 people followers is 1.2 to 1.

6. Set up an Auto Search.

This is the real genius of TweetAdder. Once it runs out of profiles you hand-selected, it will search for people and follow them automatically. We haven’t found another application that will do this. 

It looks back through tweets to see what people are talking about and then follows them based on their conversations. Try to get pretty specific so you can be really targeted. It will make your follow of their account especially relevant.

7. Set up Auto Unfollowing.

Be sure to set up unfollowing as well. You should unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed you within a reasonable amount of time. Three days is a nice number, since it ensures people who follow you are active users. You need to keep your ratio of following to followers healthy. If you have followed too many people and not enough people are following you back, Twitter thinks you are a spam account and will shut you down. 1.2 following to followers is a pretty safe number for unfollowing.

8. Maintain.

You should periodically check back to make sure there are enough people waiting to be followed and that your ratios look okay. Keep in mind the profile search feature isn’t automatic, so it’s a good idea set a recurring calendar reminder every two weeks to go in and add manually more people to follow. This is how you will find most influential users since they generally have the most followers.

9. Give Back.

You should tweet multiple times per day. At least once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening to cover the different times people are viewing tweets. You can use a number of different programs to find out when you should be tweeting to your particular audience. They can also determine your most influential followers are so you can interact with them more or offer them special deals. These people could be converted into brand evangelists.

Be sure to tweet interesting and relevant content for your audience demographics. Also monitor your account and be sure to get back to people quickly. Try to take conversations off-line into private messages if they’re starting to get too long so you don’t annoy your other followers. Be sure to shorten all links and only include pictures when necessary.

It is very hard to talk about your brand in 140 characters, so you should always post links to relevant information on your blog whenever possible. You can also ask people to visit your Facebook page if you have an event or to sign up for your email list for more in-depth updates.

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let us know.

Who Should Sign Up for Social Sonar

Social Sonar - Thursday, February 07, 2013
Happy Cat

We want all our clients to be this happy.

It's our goal to make sure everyone who signs up with Social Sonar is happy with our services. Part of this includes finding people who feel the same way we do. 

You will be happiest with our services if you agree with any of the following statements:

  • I haven't logged into Facebook or Twitter for a week; that's really bad for my business.
  • I know customers are asking questions online, but I don't have time to answer. I'm too busy running my business.
  • I have a basic understanding of social media, but I know I don't have the expertise to write content for these channels.
  • My time is better spent running my business than writing Facebook posts and tweets.
  • I want to be seen as an industry expert. I would rather talk about things my customers want to hear rather than my specific business.
  • I thought about (or used to have) someone at my business managing my social media, but I would rather use someone who is properly trained.
  • Social media is an investment.

World's Oldest Yelp Review

Alison Kawa - Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yelp Review from 1945I was recently at a second hand bookstore looking through a complete collection of Mark Twain's works when I came across a yellowed article from The New York Sun dated Saturday, April 21, 1945. It was a letter to the editor from an aggravated job hunter in Brooklyn describing, in excruciating detail, his attempts to "obtain a release from the USES [United States Employment Service] of the WMC [War Manpower Commission]", which had been created only three days prior.

I noticed a few similarities with some current Yelp reviews:

  • Someone felt the need to voice their opinion, whether to vent or to warn other job seekers about the challenges they would face.
  • The letter was written anonymously, and no names were named, so it was less about a specific person and more about a specific problem. 
  • This reprint had obviously struck a chord with the person who tucked it away in a book. Maybe it helped him or her make a decision or influenced their own job hunt.
These days it's a lot easier to voice an opinion due to review sites, and hopefully that makes customer feedback more accessible to business owners. However, there are still some steps you can follow to make to encourage people to provide constructive criticism:

1. Show You're Listening.

Ask people for feedback by creating an online survey or creating a simple poll on Facebook. If you have a physical location, provide comment cards people can fill out, and post the Yelp logo in a prominent place.

2. Respond to Reviews.

Whether positive or negative, someone took the time to provide you with feedback. Publicly thank the person for taking the time to write a review and address some of the issues or compliments they mentioned. Whether or not you are building a relationship with that reviewer, future visitors will see a responsive business owner.

3. Thank your Critics.

When you make a big change due to client feedback, let all your clients know their opinion was the driving decision. Even if they weren't the person who made the suggestion, they will appreciate feeling like you are willing to take their needs into consideration.

Have any other suggestions on how to receive and use feedback? Let us know below.

8 Ways to Create Better Facebook Content

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Facebook is something everyone has these days, but marketers can still find creating and using social media pages overwhelming. How much posting is too much? What do you post to get attention from your followers? How do you build valuable content? Here are some simple rules to help you create the best Facebook fan page.

1. Keep it short.
Facebook users normally look at their newsfeeds via their smartphones or tablets, which means less space to view content. Grab their attention with short, valuable tidbits.

2. Ask for feedback.
You can create a customizable questionnaire to obtain solid feedback on your brand or services. Use Facebook’s poll functionality to start asking questions that will make your business run more efficiently and better reach the needs of your customers.

3. Write Facebook Notes.
Perhaps your business doesn't allow for weekly blog post, but you still have things to tell your followers and the format is too long for a regular post. Try using Facebook Notes to feature your insights in this shorter form. As an added bonus, the info also gets indexed in search engines.

4. Call Users to Action.
Ask a question, post an image, share a video or link, and invite feedback. If your content doesn’t offer some way for users to engage, you’ll get less traffic on your page.

5. Demonstrate Your Expertise.
If you're running a clothing shop, you should have some strong knowledge on fashion trends. Create a list of how-tos or offer tips on what your business knows.

6. Reward your Fans.
You always want to show your appreciation for followers who comment and stay in touch with your brand. Offer some Facebook exclusives from your business. It’s quick and easy a way to say, “thank you!”

7. Improve your Image.
Don't just search on Google images for fun or quirky photos. Post things that are going on with your business by taking photos or videos with your smartphone. This helps others see your brand in action.

8. Be Direct.
While you want to keep your posts short, you also want to make the messages relevant. If people are unclear with a call to action, they will be less likely to engage.

Most importantly, have fun with your Facebook page! Since it’s social media, engaging your followers doesn't mean only having business-related posts. People care more about engaging content that adds value to their everyday experience.

Happy Marketing!

5 Basic SEO Strategies

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Search engine optimization (SEO) may not be part of the social media, but if you're creating or maintaining a blog, it may be particularly helpful for your business. Online portals like Google and Bing help give visibility to business using SEO. In the end, knowing the tricks these search engines use can help you create a sale for your business. Here are some basic SEO principles to help your site.

1. Tracking
If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if something is successful? The easiest first step is installing Google Analytics. It’s free for basic functions, so once you get used to various features, you can determine whether you need the paid version. Just try it out and start looking at conversions today.

2. Keywords
Determine keywords that fit the business and services that you provide. Utilizing keywords within your content, including tagged photos, is the best way to optimize your site. Since Google and Bing algorithms do all of the work, it won't cost you anything!

3. Site Map
Clean up the structure of your site. Don't overwhelm search engine crawlers with too many bells and whistles. While some sites use Javascript to give the site a sleek look, search engines can't read this design, meaning your website won't be visible to your potential consumers when they run a basic search.

4. Landing Pages
Creating targeted landing pages for services, products, or FAQs provides visitors answers to their search inquiries. Your homepage is certainly key to your business because it’s the introduction to your brand, but it’s not the only page to worry about. Providing a range of landing pages means your business will be optimized for search engine ranking and obtaining consumers.

5. Links
Structure your links. Make sure your content is strong and your pages are specific to what you are talking about. Example: www.yoursite.com/press_release/May_2012. Failure to provide specific links to content, or having links unrelated to the content itself, doesn’t help your SEO ranking.

Though these tips are helpful to remember, the bottomline is that if you don't provide strong content that showcases your business, services or products, the best SEO optimization will not bring people back to your page. Be sure to keep content creation in mind as much as these technical specifics!

How to Write Content for Facebook and Twitter

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 10, 2013

For those of you who have time to write your own Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, here's a helpful guide based on what we tell our own writers.

General Social Media Advice

  • Include an image and/or link whenever possible. Example: “Thank goodness it's Friday! This week is toast. http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m43b06Wj0g1rosawp.jpg
  • Basement Cat in Sweater

    Include an image in Facebook posts whenever possible.

  • People LOVE motivational and inspirational quotes. Try to work in at least one per week.
  • Beautiful images, cartoon jokes, and cute pictures are always popular, as well. Try to work in at least one per week.
  • Include a question or “call to action” whenever possible. These should start with a verb or action word. The easier the question is to answer, the better. Try to keep it from being Yes or No. For example, this question would likely be answered Yes or No: “It’s Friday night! Are you going out?” This is a question likely to get more engagement: “It’s Friday night! What's on your agenda?”
  • Include information about the local area, if possible. Example: “Looks like a lot of fun family stuff is going on this weekend. What do you have planned? http://events.sfgate.com/search?cat=&has_kids=1
  • Try to limit the number of questions to one per post. Otherwise it gets too confusing and people don’t know how to answer. Example: “It's Friday. Are you staying in or going out? What are you doing the rest of the weekend?” vs. “It's finally Friday! What are you looking forward to this weekend?”

Facebook

  • Facebook has a maximum image height or width of 960 pixels.
  • You should post on Facebook at least three times per week. You can do it once a day if the information is varied enough.
  • Include only one link per Facebook post.
  • Encourage people to respond by asking questions or requesting photos / stories / comments.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people to Like posts. “'Like’ this if you have ever dreamed of ice cream.”

Twitter

  • Ideally you should tweet 1-3 times per day to catch people at various points in their feed. You can use a service like Crowdbooster to determine the best time(s) to post. They offer a 30 day free trial, and it's only $9 a month for their basic plan.
  • Encourage people to share by making the tweets easy to pass along without edits. All they should have to do is retweet.
  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters. Leave room for the tweetpic link if you’re including one (18 characters), shortened links, and your twitter handle if they retweet.
  • You don’t need to include the your Twitter handle in the body of a tweet. If someone wants to RT it, they will leave the Twitter handle at the front, anyway.
  • Don't be afraid to ask people to RT. "RT this if you can't live without butter."
  • Include popular hashtags to take advantage of current topics. Check out Hashtags.org to see what's trending.

Have you discovered tactics that work well? Share them below!