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Experience Required - 6 Reasons to Hire a More Seasoned Social Media Manager

Social Sonar - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

person typing We're not here to tell you what your process of hiring should be, but you certainly don't want to just pick someone you deem as "really good at Facebook". We're certainly not saying recent college graduates aren't qualified to work with social media, or that they are not more than capable of handling the responsibilities that come with running such an important aspect of your business.

However, since social media is a relatively new thing, many businesses assume that a younger employee is more knowledgeable with this channel. This is the kind of thinking that can get you into trouble. Social Media is important, and just like any other part of your business, you want to hire the most capable and experienced person. Some problems you may encounter are:

1. Lack of Social Media Etiquette

Yes, this newly minted graduate knows Facebook and Twitter, but do they know how to create posts that reflect your brand? Do they understand how to manage awareness of your products? Can you rely on them to take their responsibilities seriously? The last thing you want is a late night Instragram photo posted on the wrong Facebook Wall or a customer mistreated. The Chrysler Twitter incident and Best Buy Facebook ordeal are good examples of how bad this can be.

2. Getting on the Job Training

I know what you're thinking - how can this person gain experience if we don't give them a chance? Remember: there is a difference between having someone manage your social media and entry level experience. Social Media incorporates marketing, public relations, branding, customer service, and sales. We learn these things through years of on-the-job experience. Professors can only do so much.

3. Unfamiliarity with Your Business

Your business is your livelihood. Trusting a workforce newbie can be a risky. This person will need to really understand what your company stands for, the products or service that you provide, and the marketplace. We all have to learn these things when we start working at any company, but a new graduate will have a deeper learning curve.

4. Communication, Communication, Communication

The art of communicating in a businesslike manner is truly learned. It took many of us time to learn how to read company communication and reply in a professional manner. While blogs and social media interaction are allowed to be less stiff, you need to ask yourself, Does my new hire know the difference? Does this person know when to use a more formal tone?

This leads us to the next point....

5. Humor: Friend or Foe?

We all have a different sense of humor, and social media certainly can entertain us, but does your ingénue know the boundaries? The last thing you want is to offend your consumer base, like the famous Kenneth Cole Egyptian riots tweet, or the disastrous jokes Aflac spokesman Gilbert Gottfried made about the Japanese tsunamis.

6. Inability to Analyze Efforts

Social Media isn't just about posting and engaging. You need to find out if using these channels is working. You need someone who can understand the nuts and bolts of your marketing efforts. Can your hire craft content to engage and inspire fans? Can they also create reports and analyze high level information to determine next steps?

Here is the bottom line: you need to make sure you hire the right person for the job. Experience is necessary, but in some cases, budgets make it difficult to retain an expert. If you hire a new graduate, make sure you set expectations and keep control. Ensure all accounts created use your company's email address, passwords are shared with you, and all posts are double-checked before they are put out on social media. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's best to maximize return on this important part of your marketing plan.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platform

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It might feel like there are far too many social media platforms in the virtual world.  Here's a list of the top websites and why they might benefit you.

FACEBOOK  

Facebook is approaching 1 billion users (although that number was recently challenged due to the number of fake and/or inactive profiles).  Those with a Facebook profile generally leave their browser open for many hours a day, but most are there to connect with friends and socialize.  With so many users, this platform can be helpful in both B2B and B2C marketing.  Make sure you understand the difference between profiles, fan pages and groups.  

TWITTER  

Twitter receives approximately 144 million unique visitors each month.  Reportedly, Twitter users are multi-taskers who are easily distracted.  This platform is more open, which can be overwhelming but useful when searching keywords.  Hashtags can help you be part of a larger conversation about topics.   

GOOGLE+  

Google+ will reportedly have 400 million users by the end of 2012.  Sixty percent of their users are web developers or software engineers.  Seventy-five to 85% are men, and the most popular age range is 25-34.  Google+ is definitely rising in the ranks and may certainly take over the top spot someday if Facebook continues to frustrate users with format changes.

LINKEDIN  

LinkedIn has over 100 million users, the majority of which are there for professional reasons.  Over one million are high-ranking executives with decision making authority.  LinkedIn is best used for B2B marketing.  

REDDIT  

Reddit receives millions of visitors.  It is a social site that allows users to submit links, and then allows other users to vote those submissions "up" or "down," so that popular posts are more easily found.  The site can be useful to help create viral ad campaigns and cause awareness.  

STUMBLEUPON  

StumbleUpon calls itself a "discovery engine" that finds web content for its users.  It recently surpassed Facebook as the highest traffic referrer of any website.  To catch the StumbleUpon user's attention, use flashy photos and catchy headlines.   

YOUTUBE  

YouTube reportedly has a brand value of $18.099 billion.  As the internet replaces the yellow pages, television and radio in the advertising department, YouTube can provide you with a format for releasing visual content.   

PINTEREST  

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard.  It relies heavily upon photos and videos, which are the most popular posts for business fan pages on Facebook.  Women between the ages of 25 and 44 make up 59% of its membership.    

TUMBLR  

Tumblr is a very simple blog site and, like Pinterest, is photo/image-based (well over half of the content uploaded are images).  Tumblr offers seven options for posting content: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, Video.  Users can then "like" your post or "re-blog" it.  Tumblr had over 15 billion page views in January 2012.

The top two social networking sites remain Facebook and Twitter.  However, there are many other sites out there.  Ask your customers where they spend their time and consider spending some time there yourself.  Which sites do you use to promote your business?

What Is SEO And How Do You Get It?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Search Engine Optimization. SEO. You may have heard those "buzz letters," but what do they mean? SEO "is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural," or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic"), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users."  (Via Wikipedia.) 

Basically, SEO is what helps people find you faster. How do you raise your SEO and help your customers find you in a sea of competitors? Some of it is simple -- things you may already doing:

  • Add a blog to your website
  • Add Google Analytics to every page of your website
  • Don't use excessive code
  • Make every single page unique
  • Use meta tags
  • Don't use repetitive wording
  • Include footer links on every page
  • Create separate pages for each keyword
  • Use keyword rich title tags on each page of your website. 

However, recently it was revealed that Google's new algorithms also include social media in the SEO-raising criteria. Updates can also determine when websites are trying to trick the algorithms into raising their ranking. Therefore, you not only need a great website, you need to be a social media conversationalist.

What else should you be doing to stay relevant in the online world? We hate to sound like a broken record, but...

Maintain your Facebook page: Post interesting content (photos, links, etc.) and respond to questions or comments. It is truly important to have a conversation on Facebook. 

Share tweets about your industry, not just your brand. And share interesting links and information so that others will be compelled to re-tweet and respond to your posts.

Upload videos to YouTube (which is owned by Google). Include a link to your website somewhere in the description. An interesting video can go viral and give your brand a boost. The goal is to create content that others want to share.

If you are on Pinterest, pin or re-pin interesting visuals. Don't just pin photos with links back to your website.

On LinkedIn, you should join groups and participate in conversations: answer questions and post your company updates. Although it doesn't necessarily raise your SEO, it contributes to brand recognition. 

Since Google obviously owns Google+, it is certainly a place that you may want to consider spending time if you are looking to raise SEO. It may not weigh heavily now, but as Google+ gains momentum, it may matter more in the future for those trying to raise awareness of their brand online.

As you work to build your brand, your ranking in any search engine should organically rise as well. Which sites are you using to build your brand and optimize your search engine ranking?

 

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?

 

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.


Who is Using Social Media?

Social Sonar - Saturday, March 10, 2012

MBA Online recently released a report and infographic about who is using the largest social media sites. 

They found that 66% of adults are connected to at least one social media site.  College students, or those who have completed at least some college, represent the majority on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Digg and Reddit. Among Facebook users, 57% have completed some college, and 24% have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some might be surprised to learn that people 45 and older make up 46% of Facebook users.

About 57% of Facebook and 59% of Twitter users are women. Eighty-two percent of Pinterest users are women, who pin crafts, gift ideas, hobbies, interior design and fashion. Google+ reports that 71% of their users are men and about half of Google+ users are 24 or younger. LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women — 49% over age 45 — who use the site to connect with other business professionals.

Check out the infographic below for other statistics.  The more you understand where your potential customers log in, the sooner you can pinpoint where you too should spend your time.  

Advertising on Social Media Sites

Social Sonar - Saturday, January 21, 2012
Recently, Kissmetrics discussed marketing on various social media sites.  Here is a summary of their findings.

FACEBOOK

Facebook has 800 million users.  Although those with a Facebook profile generally leave their browser open for many hours a day, most are not actually on Facebook to buy items.  They are there to connect with friends and socialize.  So advertising to the Facebook users requires patience.  You should target users based on their interests to create a connection and build a relationship, however you should not try to sell directly to them. 

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn has 100 million users, the majority of which are there for professional reasons.  Over one million are high-ranking executives with decision making authority.  LinkedIn is best used for business to business marketing. 

REDDIT

Reddit receives millions of visitors.  If you are not familiar with Reddit, it is a social site that allows users to submit links, then allows other users to vote those submission "up" or "down," so that popular posts are more easily found.  The site can be useful to help create viral ad campaigns and cause awareness. 

STUMBLEUPON

StumbleUpon calls itself a "discovery engine" that finds web content for its users.  It "recently passed Facebook as the highest traffic referrer of any website."  To catch the StumbleUpon user's attention, Kissmetrics suggests flashy photos and catchy headlines.  They tout StumbleUpon's paid platform as possibly the best of all the social media sites. 

TWITTER

Twitter is still finding its way in the marketing world.  Apparently Twitter users are multi-taskers who are easily distracted.  Kissmetrics does warn that you need a fairly large marketing budget to advertise on Twitter.  However, if you are building a brand, the return on investment can be significant.

Have you tried advertising on any social media sites?  Let us know how it worked for you!

 

Meet Social Sonar!

Social Sonar - Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Have you ever wondered who is behind the curtain at Social Sonar?  Well, wonder no more! 

Meet Alison Kawa, Co-founder, Account Management.  

 

Why did you start Social Sonar?
I started Social Sonar for business owners like my dad. He owns a loose leaf tea shop. He’s busy and he doesn’t have time to blog, write a newsletter, or stay involved with all the conversations about his business on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and an ever growing list of social sites.

What does social media mean to you?
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are many people’s first impression of a business. People turn to Yelp to research where to eat, shop, and even which dentist to choose, Twitter for up to the minute news and deals, and Facebook to share their daily life and photos with friends and family.

How can social media help small businesses?
Social media allows you to join in the conversation, learn what people like (and hate), and gain the lifelong loyalty of your customers.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
We work with you to create a social media plan to achieve your business goals. We monitor your online reputation and respond quickly, in the way you specify. We create unique, engaging content to share with your customers through Facebook Twitter, your blog, and newsletters. You approve it, we post it. We find you new customers, and keep existing fans coming back. With 24 hour responsiveness, everyday, we’re able to interact with your customers on their time, and they’ll love you for listening.

Next up is Wesley Gillis, Co-founder, Client Services. 


Why did you start Social Sonar?
My wife and I owned a store together a while back, and never found a good solution to deal with growing and marketing the business online. I felt that Social Sonar was a chance to create something that would help other business owners who are in the same boat we were.

What does social media mean to you?
I think human beings enjoy living in a community. As technology grew over time, it had the effect of isolating us from a feeling of being part of a group. Social media is our way of correcting that trend by intertwining our desire for community with the technology we are creating.

How can social media help small businesses?
A lot of small businesses are in a position of needing to educate customers about their service. Maybe there is something that makes your business unique, maybe you want to share the personality of your business because it’s something that your customers aren’t going to find anywhere else. Social media gives businesses a way to spread that message. Small businesses have always been about being part of the community, participating with customers and being part of people’s lives. Social media helps businesses continue to do this as their customers spend more and more time reading blogs, checking email and surfing Facebook.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
Business owners know they need to stay active with social media, email newsletters and blogging. The problem is that they don’t have the time and don’t have the budget to hire a full-time person. Social Sonar gives these busy business owners a team of people who can handle learn the unique style and personality of the business, help manage their social media, keep Facebook and Twitter active, write and send out email newsletters and even blog for them.

And then we have Lori Myers, Director of Social Media. 


Why did you start Social Sonar?
Since I started helping my dance studio instructor with her social media a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to help other people achieve the American dream. So many people have fallen on hard times in the last few years. Rather than look at it negatively, I see so many people turn on their creativity and invent ways to take care of themselves and their families. I realize that owning your own business is no walk in the park. You have to be everything to everyone at all times. Social Sonar allows business owners to get some of their precious time back by placing the reins of their social media marketing in our capable hands.

What does social media mean to you?
The term “social media” has become such a popular term in the last year. Everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon. To me, it encompasses all forms of digital communication: from the obvious Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, Yelp, LinkedIn, WordPress and Blogger. Anywhere on the Internet that people can connect, communicate and share ideas or information counts as social media.

How can social media help small businesses?
Facebook is great for reaching friends of your current customers. Twitter is amazing for helping you reach a wider audience. Responding to Yelp reviews can show people that you are conscientious about your relationship with your customers. Over half of Americans are on the Internet (which might not sound like a lot, but if you subtract out children and the elderly who might not be online, the number is significant), so you need to be there too.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
Talking about a potential client base of “millions,” might be a little overwhelming. Social Sonar helps create and implement a social media plan specific to your business. If your product is available online, we can cater to a worldwide audience. If you are just trying to sell coffee in Middletown, USA, then we have a plan for you too. This allows you, the business owner, to get back to what you love doing -- running your business. Whether you don’t understand or enjoy social media websites, or you just don’t have time, Social Sonar is here to help.

 

Here Is Your Post-Black Friday Checklist

Social Sonar - Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday 2011 is history. Small Business Saturday is almost over. Cyber Monday is only a day away. The holiday shopping season has officially begun. Here is a checklist to maximize your post-holiday success with a social media marketing plan to keep those customers coming back.

1. Website.
Even if it is only a simple website with your contact information and store hours, websites are a basic requirement these days. Your website should also link to all of your social media pages so that your customers can decide which mode of contact works best for them.

2. Newsletter.
You should also have an e-mail newsletter that goes out on a regular basis. Whether it is weekly or monthly, connecting regularly with your customers keeps your business on their mind. Unless you are correcting a mistake, don't over-do it by e-mailing too often. You want your customers to look forward to hearing from you. Make signing up easy by having a sign-up button at the top of the front page of your website.

3. Blogging.
We have said it before and we will say it again: Publishing a weekly blog about your company and its products or services is an important part of your social media plan. Keeping your website updated with fresh content raises your rankings within search engines. This means when someone "Googles" your company, it will come up faster.

4. Facebook.
With 800 million users worldwide, your customers are most likely on Facebook. If you create a fan page for your business, it gives your customers a fun and easy place to connect with you. Also, when a customer "likes" your fan page, it is published on their wall for all of their friends to see, thereby exposing your business to another layer of potential customers.

5. Twitter.
With over 200 million users, Twitter is another great way to connect with potential customers. You can use the search function to find potential customers in your geographic area. You can also search tweets and profiles for key words to connect with people who may be interested in your business. If you tag your tweets with proper hash tags, it allows users to find you when they are searching for certain topics.

6. Other social media platforms.
You may decide that Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, Foursquare or other sites are important for your business. You don't want to create a situation where you are trying to manage too many profiles. However, if you know your customers are congregating in a certain place then you may decide to spend some time there as well.

If you would like to read some of our success stories about how other companies have used social media to promote their business, please check out this link: http://www.socialsonar.com/social-media-success-stories. Which sites are on your checklist? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Do You Need a Company Page on LinkedIn?

Social Sonar - Saturday, November 19, 2011
LinkedIn, long known as a website for job seekers to keep track of their professional experience, recently enabled status updates on company pages.  The company pages do not appear to be in direct competition with Facebook fan pages and Google+ brand pages, as the purpose would most likely be to release job opportunities to your followers, rather than specials and deals to your customers.   Regardless, LinkedIn is another social media website that you may be interested in checking out. 

In LinkedIn's own words: 
"A Company Page is a place for companies to provide more information about their products and services, job opportunities, and company culture.  Any LinkedIn member can follow a company that has set up a Company Page to get updates on key developments."

We logged into LinkedIn and checked out the company page for Google.  They have over 350,000 followers, almost 40,000 employees on LinkedIn, and are advertising 1,200 jobs.  Facebook has almost 120,000 followers, 4,000 employees on LinkedIn and is advertising 17 jobs all over the world. 
LinkedIn also lists the careers that may be interesting to you and offers a suggested list of companies you may want to follow based on your resumé

It is fairly easy to add your company page to LinkedIn.  There are some security controls in place to make sure the wrong person doesn't claim your company name. 
If you do choose to claim your company on LinkedIn, your best plan of action is to make sure that it has fresh content to entice followers.  There's nothing worse than a company page that has no followers.  You can also ask your colleagues to "recommend" your company, which again adds content to your page.  One very important feature is enabling your RSS blog feed to post to your company page on LinkedIn.  Since you should be updating your blog on a regular basis, this too will keep your company page full of new posts. 

As with Google+ brand pages, LinkedIn's company pages might not be a necessary evil (i.e., time-suck) for now, but they may be in the future.  It is worth keeping an eye on LinkedIn, as a company page may someday be as important as having your website and Facebook fan page.