Up Periscope

Tweet Chats: Take a Two-Pronged Approach

Social Sonar - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Part of Twitter’s beauty is the way it forces users to be concise. Many interactions on Twitter consist of “one-offs,” retweets, short replies and, on occasion, longer back-and-forth exchanges that can last a few days. While this enables quickfire connections and dynamic newsfeeds, the brevity of this kind of communication can also leave you wanting more. That’s where Tweet Chats come in.

Tweet Chats lets you structure your Twitter activity around one specific topic for as long as you want. Whether you are looking to host one or just participate, the logistics are simple. Just set a time and create a hashtag that helps followers label their contributions to the conversation. Everyone who’s taking part can track new contributions by following the hashtag. Sound interesting? Take a two-pronged approach to make the best of Tweet Chats:

Reach out to Customers

If you have an active Twitter community that follows your business, you can host a Tweet Chat to connect with customers. If you’re on the cusp of a big announcement, treat it is a mini-press conference. You can facilitate the chat by asking customers questions or turn the tables and let them drive the conversation. When curious newcomers join your Tweet Chat, you have the chance to engage them and turn them into brand devotees.

Network with other Professionals

Looking to connect with other industry influencers? Look for Tweet Chats they may be hosting. Other people in your field might already be meeting to discuss new trends that could impact you. There’s even the possibility for strategizing to form important partnerships along the way.

What’s your area of expertise? Is there a pressing issue in your industry that you’re curious about? What are your customers' most frequent questions? Use this directory of regular chats and start Tweet Chatting your way to some answers!



Through the GrapeVine: Three Lessons from the Death of a Social App

Social Sonar - Monday, June 24, 2013

Last week saw the launch of Instagram Video, an expansion of the popular photo sharing app that lets users tell stories with up to 15 seconds of video instead of just static images.  The response was huge. In just 24 hours, users posted more than 5 million videos. As expected, Twitter’s own video application Vine has suffered as a result of Instagram Video’s popularity, so much so that #RIPVine became a trending hashtag on Twitter. Although it’s not clear if Vine will make a successful comeback, its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the social media sun does illustrate some interesting ideas.

Easy Come Easy Go

Today’s hottest social media platform could easily be tomorrow’s social media graveyard. Things move quickly online and it’s important to keep up. Having a dedicated user that is up to speed when it comes to online trends is essential. You don’t want to be the only person still trying to make Friendster happen after everyone has moved on!

Video is Big on Mobile

Both Vine and Instagram Video show that users are craving video on mobile, even if it comes in short snippets. Listen to your customers. What can you share about yourself through video that you haven’t shared before? Even in 15 second intervals, the storytelling possibilities are endless. The best tool for becoming an amazing video producer may already be in your hands! You don’t need fancy equipment or trained professionals to get started, so be your own videographer starting today.

Vine.gif

Users Rule

The ebb and flow of popular online platforms is now squarely in the hands of users. Users decide when an application has run its course. When it comes to social media applications, people may be fickle at times, prompting fast changes, but they also have their eye on the next thing that will maximize their participation and take the next innovative step technologically.

Are you an early adopter of Instagram Video? What’s the most creative use you’ve seen for it so far? Share your comments below.

Why Did Nintendo Pass on a Press Conference at E3?

Social Sonar - Friday, June 21, 2013

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Some aspects of marketing may seem like they’re too tried-and-true to give up, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be subject to some skillful reinvention. Just look at Nintendo’s recent decision to eschew a traditional press conference at E3 (arguably the biggest industry event for videogames in the world) in favor of sharing news with fans through social media. Nintendo’s decision to abstain from putting together a big presentation may have been considered suicide in the past, but that’s not necessarily true in an age where so many of the interactions between customers and the companies they love are happening online.

Instead of relying on one keynote address to summarize upcoming releases, Nintendo decided to use social media channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to roll out information directly to fans. It’s a shrewd move that pulls the focus away from creating a one-off event that’s built to impress reporters on the showroom floor and moves the conversation online. It also lets them add depth to their presentations by featuring video interviews with game developers that otherwise may not have been able to share stage time.

Nintendo-Controller.jpg

The approach means that users don’t need a plane ticket, special badge or press credentials to be first seat for news. It’s a case study in how to be open, transparent and engaged with lots of followers at once, without having to rely on traditional media outlets to relay information. It also collapses the wall between the conversations that are happening at the event and the ones that are happening online. In the past, users were used to commenting on impressions from journalists reporting from the floor. Now, they don’t have to wait for a slow trickle of information to react to--they can experience it in real time. Here is Regie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo America, explaining more about Nintendo’s unconventional choice.

What do you think about Nintendo’s decision? One thing's for sure, their use of social media instead of a press conference certainly got tongues wagging and became a story in and of itself!

The Politics of Talking Politics on Social Media

Social Sonar - Wednesday, May 08, 2013

They say it’s always smart to avoid two topics during conversation: religion and politics. But the truth is, social media has become a huge platform for people to share their personal views about a slew of different perspectives, political or otherwise.

When it comes to taking on politics and social issues, however, what you write, tweet and post on your personal accounts may not always be what’s best for the social media outlets that represent your business. While you may personally feel strongly about current events and issues of the day, does it make sense for your small business to get political?

Vote.jpg

For some organizations, the answer will be obvious. Take a look at your central mission. A non-profit that promotes gender parity in the workplace, for example, should absolutely use their social media soapbox as much as possible. You’ve got an incredible opportunity to mobilize people, engage them in a way that gets them to think about issues in a new way, and turn followers into strong advocates for your cause. The website Movements.org has some great online resources, including how to mobilize followers and raise funds through social media.

If you’re a business that deals with other kinds of services, the answer to whether or not you should delve into politics is not as clear cut. If you’re a small restaurant, sports shop or electronics stores, for example, your mission is to appeal to a broad demographic. That may mean having to bite your tongue on questions that may be too polarizing. The last thing you want to do is stoke a fire on your business’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. 

Still, finding a cause that your business or organization can rally behind might not be a bad idea. It shows that you’re an active members in the community and that your business has a mission beyond making a profit. If you’re shopping for a cause, attach yourself to something that isn’t divisive.

A street cleaning project is a good example of a cause you could support without the fear of ruffling too many feathers along the way. Endorsing a political candidate, on the other hand, can easily become a case study in delving too deply into controversial territory. Instead, find a broader message that's still positive, like encouraging everyone to get out and vote no matter who their preferred candidate is. 

So, next time you have the urge to publish that political rant online or share your views on a contested election, remember that the temporary glee you get from broadcasting your perspective may be great, but the ultimate effect might be alienating and counterproductive. When in doubt, focus on supporting issues that all of your followers can get behind so no one feels left out, even if it means letting your own opinion take a backseat for just a while. 



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.

Improvise Your Way to Social Media Success

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Yes, there's a lot of planning when it comes to setting up a successful social media strategy, but the ability to improvise is just as important. If you're familiar with improvisational comedy, sometimes called "improv," you know that coming up with great material on spot is easier said than done. Still, there are some good lessons to be gleaned from the world of improv that can make your strategy that much stronger.

"Yes, and..."

One of the first rules you learn in improv is to accept the reality your scene partners are trying to make and build on it (aptly summed up as the "Yes, and..." rule). Imagine an actor walking into a scene with the line “This spaceship is about to crash!” You can either accept that first line as a fact and start building a story together, or you can shoot it down with “What do you mean? We're at the mall.” The latter response is a scene killer, with two conflicting intentions putting the nail in the coffin before your scene gets off the ground.

The same can be said about your social media strategy. By reacting positively to the direction your followers start you off in, you can start building a longer, stronger narrative together. Once you've said “yes,” don't forget to build on their original ideas with your own contributions so that followers are incentivized to keep engaging with you.

Support your partners

While some parts of a scene about you, they're just as much about the dynamic you're a part of. The same is true about your presence through social media. If you're only concerned with how many people follow what you publish, you're missing the other side of the equation. Support your online community by the following individual users, chiming in on what they have to say and supporting the endeavors that they're trying to promote.

Elephant-Performs.jpg

Tell stories

A classic pitfall of comedic improv is to feel the need to rattle off a bunch of jokes that never add up to anything. In the same way, you don't want the messages you publish to exist in a vacuum. Remember that everything you put out there is part of a multi-faceted, ongoing narrative. It's good to concentrate on details, but you should never lose focus when it comes the the driving narrative you're trying to share.

Be spontaneous, flexible

Having a game plan is incredibly important, but don't be so dogmatic about sticking to your strategy. You could risk coming off as inflexible, standoffish and even stubborn. Instead, open yourself to the possibility that once you get in the game, things are bound to change. By being receptive to an ever-changing online environment, you can guarantee that you'll be a dynamic player, ready to explore new and exciting directions in your story building.

Listen

Finally, make sure your ears are always open to what your scene partners have to say. They might be feeding you important clues about where they'd like to take the narrative. When you listen carefully, the stories you tell in any medium will become more memorable, detailed and enriching. People will also feel that you're present, accessible and transparent.

A strategy doesn't always have to be a strict blueprint you never stray from. Be open to the possibilites that are happening around you and you'll be ready to thrive in the world of social media, where dynamic storytelling is the key to success.

3 Ways to Put People Front and Center

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Have you fallen into the trap of being purely transactional with your tweets and posts? It's easy to find yourself in a rut where you only announce things like discounts, new products, operational hours or other superficial facts about your business. But followers want a little bit more than that, and you're not likely to keep their attention for very long if you don't indulge them.

People who subscribe to you via social media want information that they can't get from somewhere else. They want to feel connected to the people behind the brand, and feel like they're an active participant in the story of your business. Here are three ways you can put people first to make sure your social media strategy is personal.

Feature Customer Stories

Do you have a regular who has been coming into your store for years? Next time you see them, ask them to answer a few questions about themselves and use social media to feature their story. It's a great way to make customers feel valuable and shows that your business is a vital part of the community. You never know what you'll learn about your customers along the way, and everyone loves to have at least fifteen minutes of fame!

Use Pictures

Take pictures (or encourage open submissions) of your customers enjoying the things that make your brand great. For instance, you could create a contest where customers submit pictures of themselves with their favorite pint from your micro-brewery. Generating original content makes your storytelling through social media become more dynamic and unique. Just make sure you always get the permission from the people featured in the photographs!

People.jpg

Provide Backstage Access

Your employees don't have to be anonymous. In the same way you feature customers, you can share stories about the employees that make up the heart of your business. Pulling back the curtain on your operations can be a little scary at first, but remember, you're the publisher. You control what information to share and what should stay internal to your organization. Followers can learn why your employees love working for you, which encourages brand loyalty. Customers also get to learn more about the staff that serves them, helping to build a great rapport that builds lasting relationships.

Think of your social media platforms less as a news ticker with a constant stream of facts and more as a dynamic tool for storytelling. Start with people and build your stories out from there. Use original and found images as well as text to provide eye-catching information and you're sure to have an online presence worthy of the people who are the beating heart of your business.

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.

8 Ways to Create Better Facebook Content

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 24, 2013
writing_content_image
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!