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7 Signs It’s Time to Revise Your Social Media Strategy

Social Sonar - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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.


Holly and Southwest Airlines: Lessons Learned

Social Sonar - Wednesday, October 09, 2013

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.

Get on the Soapbox: Social Media for Social Causes

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Non-profits, organizations for social change and independent advocators of good, lend me your ears! The time has come to step up to the social media soapbox to amplify your message, educate the populace and drive your community into meaningful action. With better approaches to blogging, e-mail marketing and social media, you can broaden your reach, invigorate your base and ultimately carry out your mission more effectively.

While it’s true that big corporations have a lot of money to put behind their big branding efforts, some of the most effective tools they have at their disposal are social ones like Facebook and Twitter, which non-profits and small businesses have equal access to. So why not take advantage of some of the best connective tools available to your organization? Here are four easy ways to get started with online organizing.

Create a Twitter Cheat Sheet

So you’re already on Twitter? Fantastic! Now it’s time to make the most of it. Creating a cheat sheet is a great way to keep track of important hashtags, influencers and key talking points. Here are some key hashtags to get you started.

Embrace Digital Development Tools

Online auctions are a great way to fundraise. Some websites even specialize in hosting auctions for non-profits. Make sure you leverage your influence on Twitter and Facebook to funnel followers towards your fundraising pages. If you’re running a multi-day online auction, create regular posts with great pictures that showcase each item. You can also take advantage of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

Reach Out to Like-Minded Organizations

There is power in numbers, so make sure you are connecting with individuals and organizations that share your values. Look for opportunities to connect with the missions of others. You’ll broaden the scope of your influence and find new collaborators and supporters. By staying regularly engaged on social media, you can find the most active conversations around issues that matter to you the most. It’s a great way to network while you also gain exposure to the philosophies and practices of other online activists. Try these approaches:

  • Check out this list of 26 major charities and non-profits making their mark on social media.
  • Host a Tweet Chat centered around overlapping issues.
  • Take advantage of person-to-person connections at events like conferences, retreats and summits. When you get home, keep important conversations going through social media.
  • Blog about a cause that's typically outside the scope of your organization, then share it with people and organizations who promote that cause. You can also offer to be a guest blogger for someone else. Don't forget to link back to your own page!
  • Use Facebook, Twitter and e-mail blasts to promote events that are being produced by other organizations. Then, when you host your own fundraisers or meetups, ask for your fellow organizers to return the favor.
  • Highlight Success Stories

    Social media is an incredible storytelling device. One of the biggest things to overcome as a non-profit organization fighting for social change is the cynicism of believing that nothing will change. To be certain, many fights worth fighting are an uphill battle. But by putting an emphasis on success stories through articles, long-form blog posts, and e-mail blasts, you can show that progress is being made every day.

    What other ways have you used social media to ignite your followership? Are your Facebook and Twitter feeds a repository for stale information, or are they filled with inspiring rhetoric that spurs others into action? Share your own experience below.

    What the Fox Say: A Lesson in Viral?

    Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke may all have had a jump start on trying to stake a claim on this year’s song of the summer, but just as fall arrives at our doorstep, a dark horse (or is it fox?) is leaping into the race to trump their efforts and rewrite music history.

    The video and song in question are from a Norweigan group called Ylvis, and just like Old McDonald, these musicians have a keen interest in the sounds of various fauna. But unlike Old McDonald, whose scope of zoological sound sampling was bound to the barnyard, Ylvis goes one step forward to pose the eternal question, “What the Fox Say?”

    Okay, maybe we’re being a little bit facetious here. The song hasn’t exactly rocketed up the Billboard charts, but it has absolutely dominated blogs and social media over the past week. As of this posting, it’s managed to rack up over 15 million views on YouTube. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an indisputable viral sensation.

    If a Norweigan band can harness the power of the internet to raise its profile in such a powerful and immediate way, can you do the same? Here’s what we can learn about viral videos from “What the Fox Say.”

    The Sincerity Factor

    Treading the line between sincerity and irony is tricky, but it pays off. One way to get viewers hooked is to play with their expectations. If you caught yourself asking, “Are they for real?” while watching the Ylvis video, join the club. That mystery is a key ingredient that leads viewers to want to discover more. Did you catch the Worst Twerk Fail Ever video? Turns out it was just a gag from notorious serial prankster Jimmy Kimmel. Of course, there is a big difference between being tongue-and-cheek and being a flat-out liar. The trick is to know your audience and what kind of humor they’re primed for. 

    Embrace the Absurd

    Designer Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Absurdity and anti—absurdity are the two poles of creative energy.” We’re not sure what the heck that means, but exploring the absurd is definitely a way to reach people immersed in internet culture. If anyone disagrees, kindly refer those detractors to any of the Harlem Shake videos The internet is a strange place, filled with weird, wild stuff. Embrace it! Just check out two of the most influential pages on the web, Reddit and Buzzfeed, and see what you stumble across. Think of it as a daily digest of the web’s most viral idiosyncrasies.

    Viral Fame is Touch and Go, but Still Important

    Viral fame can come your way and then-- quick as a fox-- vanish into thin air. While it’s the holy grail of awesomeness (to borrow a little internet slang) for many marketers, it only represents a small part of what you can do through social media to reach out to fans. Still, harnessing even a little power from “the secret of the fox” can help you break out of the monotony of your usual content. Don’t be afraid to get a little whacky and meet your web followers on their level by speaking their lingo. That includes both the language you use and the visual media you create and share.

    What’s your favorite viral video? Think about the things that make you come back to it over and over. Did you feel compelled to share it right away? Put yourself in the shoes of the customers on the other end of your social media strategy and you’re sure to gain a new perspective. Who knows, you might even score next year’s song of the summer. Better start planning now!

    Thinking About Inbound Marketing? Start with Social Media

    Social Sonar - Friday, August 30, 2013

    A few years ago, “inbound marketing” may have seemed like an industry buzzword that was just another flash-in-the-pan fad, but in 2013, it’s proven to be an effective method of growing your business in an exciting and sustainable way. More than that, inbound marketing is a way to involve your customers by turning them into fans and, further down the road, evangelizers of your brand.

    What exactly is so different about the inbound marketing approach? Unlike traditional methods of reaching out to customers, inbound marketing incorporates approaches that take advantage of customers’ interest and ability to find you. In other words, potential followers are interested in finding you, learning more about you and--if they love your brand-- helping other customers spread the good word about you!

    If you guessed that the Internet and social media have played a key role in making inbound marketing successful, you’re absolutely right. In fact, it's hard to think how inbound marketing could thrive without the connectivity that the Internet provides.

    The way in which customers are able to interact with brands through social networks is unprecedented and has shifted the rules of the game in a significant way. But without great content to capture attention, you might be missing out on one of the biggest ways to grow your brand.

    Your social media strategy is the cornerstone of a sound inbound marketing approach. In some cases, it’s the first point of engagement that your customers have with your brand. In many cases, it’s the most meaningful form of interaction because it requires action and involvement from both ends. Social media opens a two-way street of communication where you can build lasting relationships, an ongoing rapport and sustained interest in the experience your brand provides.

    Do you think inbound marketing is the next logical step for your small business or organization? Start with a healthy social media presence. Strategize to create and curate the most attractive content possible, keep fans coming back for more and be consistent with your engagement. Think of your presence on social networks as calling card that will lead to many new encounters, meaningful connections and ultimately a community of people invested in your brand.>

    Social Media and the Art of the Tease

    Social Sonar - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    What motivates customers to follow you on social media? For some, the promise of having firsthand knowledge about new projects and products is too good to resist. Followers love having a direct line to you so that they can be the first to know about big changes that your brand is rolling out. Creating teases and previews on your social media platforms can be a great way to create a feeling of exclusivity and special access for your customers.

    Be Mysterious....

    Don’t give it all away at once. Instead, create a social media campaign where you slowly roll out small updates that culminate in a big reveal. You can build anticipation this way and encourage your followers to engage with each other to guess what it could be.

    ...But Don’t Play Hard to Get!

    Mystery is great, but you don’t want to prolong it unnecessarily. You could end up turning the attention and interest of your audience into frustration. The hype game can be tricky this way. Make sure you have something really special to reveal at the end so that your followers don’t feel spurned.


    Use a Variety of Media

    You can crop photos to reveal only a portion of what you’re about to premiere, use small snippets of video or write cryptic clues. Vary your message to make the mystery that much more titillating. As you start getting attention, you can be coy with your responses to comments, letting customers know they just might be on the right track.

    Is there a downside to teasing new developments? There absolutely can be. If you don’t follow through with your plans, you may find yourself surrounded by once-eager, now-empty-handed followers who are ready to move on from you. Do your best to preview plans that are already in motion and that you are sure will be completed. As phases of new project are completed, share staggered updates through social media. That way you won’t become a victim of your own hype.  

    What big projects are on the horizon for you? A venue change? A brand new product? Maybe an entire re-branding? Whatever it is, use social media to give your next unveiling the attention it deserves.

    What’s the Deal with Online Deals?

    Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    We love a good deal. There's something awesome about getting that thing you desperately need or desire for a few bucks off. Special deals helps us feel like we're in the loop, and somehow ahead of the rest of the pack. They also help us feel rewarded for being loyal customers. But from your perspective, deals can be risky business. Social media is a great way to promote savings, but are you using the intersection between deals and social media to the best of your advantage?

    Don't be a Coupon Machine

    It's tempting to use social media as the primary way to advertise coupons, sales and deals. The danger here lies in becoming a coupon catalogue. Don't let special offers take over in such way that all your other content falls by the wayside. You need time and space to develop other aspects of your brand, so don't let the coupon clutter build too much.

    Do Reward Loyal Followers

    If you're trying to engage with your most loyal customers, deals and savings are a great way to reward their excitement and passion for your product. You can generate excitement online with competitions, teasing special deals along the way. It's also not a bad way to repair damage from bad customer experiences.

    Online-Sales.jpg

    Don't Use it as Your Only Strategy For Growth

    As this study from Rhythm Insights shows, most social media users (close to 60%) follow brands to show their loyalty or support. Creating original content that shows off who you are as a brand is much more vital to a sound social media strategy, so make sure that those efforts take priority over publicizing deals.

    Do Make Stipulations

    For any deal you're offering, always make stipulations. Plan ahead and set deadlines for deals to expire. Brainstorm with staff members to make sure there aren't any gaping loopholes in your plan that would allow someone to run off with more than you can afford to give away. Make sure you communicate all the fine print to your followers before they take you up on any special deals. You can avoid awkward confrontations and negative customer experiences that way.

    With the knowledge that gaining and retaining followers doesn't rely solely on the discounts you offer, you can relax a little and refocus your energies elsewhere. Be as specific as you can with what you're offering, so that your next coupon or sales discount isn't a deal breaker for your most valued customers. Finally, have fun! Create contests, roll out deals with teases that build excitement and document people enjoying your special offers so that you have a reminder of what makes it all worth it.

    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 Reasons to Start a Loyalty Program

    Social Sonar - Thursday, December 13, 2012
    Frequent Shopper Stamp

    Many shoppers belong to several loyalty programs that allow them to acquire points, money, or merchandise. Big chain stores have been implementing this easy marketing tool to establish customer retention. Small business might assume that these programs will cost too much to implement and maintain, but their benefits can be greatly underestimated. Here are some reasons why you should kick off 2013 with a loyalty program.

    1. Return Customers

    If a shopper knows they are building up for incentives, they'll go out of their way to support your establishment. It's nice to think that if you get 10 cups of tea, you'll get one free. Chances are the customers who enroll or take part in the loyalty program know that they frequent your business and would benefit from the program. Its an easy sell.

    2. Easy Implementation

    You don't need to make your loyalty program complex. It can be as simple as stamping a card and having the customer fill out a form with her name, email address, and birth date. Or you can create a program where cards are swiped or scanned and allow for points to accumulate. Your choice is just a matter of budget and time.

    3. Targeted Marketing Efforts

    If you have a special promotion, or maybe even an event, you'll be able to communicate with the right audience. Maintaining a marketing database will ensure you are talking to consumers who already love your brand. You'll have a successful return on your invest because you will be speaking to the right people.

    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.