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4 Reasons to Use Social Sonar During the Holidays

Social Sonar - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

With only two weeks left until Christmas, we’re racing towards one of the most important days of the holiday season. One refrain echoes through the minds of most business owners: There isn’t enough time! If you’re still personally handling your social media, it’s easy to see why this season can seem unmanageable. Here are four reasons why Social Sonar could be the best gift you give yourself this year.

Open Up Time so You Can Tackle Other Projects

How many ideas and grand schemes for your business do you have slowly cooking on the back burner? Maybe they’ve been simmering there for the better part of the year without the chance of growing to fruition because you haven’t had the time to really flesh them out. If you’re dreaming of launching new ideas in 2014,  the clock is ticking. There’s no time like the present to get preparations underway. Letting someone else take the reins of your social media efforts can open up time for you to work on the projects that you’re really passionate about. Who knows--that idea you’ve been toying with could be what takes your business to the next level in the upcoming year.

Take a Break, You Deserve It!

As a business owner, you pour yourself into your work every day. For entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, it’s hard to draw the line that determines where your business ends and your personal life begins. The balancing act is even trickier right now because the holidays present great business opportunities but are also full of social gatherings that you don’t want to miss out on. Taking one thing off your plate during the holidays can open up opportunities to spend time with the people that matter. Don’t miss out on important opportunities to connect with friends and family because you’re knee-deep in tweets and Facebook comments. We’ll handle your social media efforts so that you can celebrate with the people closest to you.

Coordinate Marketing Efforts

Is your marketing department working overtime during the holidays? This time of year can seem like a race to reach customers, which can leave members of your communications team feeling overwhelmed.  Having a dedicated user that works with your marketing team to carry out your social media strategy takes some of the stress off of you. That way, you can keep an eye on the bigger marketing picture and know that your social strategy is working in close conjunction with it.

Amplify Deals

Who doesn’t love a good deal? The last few months of the year are a prime time to roll out deals for customers craving a good sale. Are you using your social networks to make the most of online shopping? An online store is only part of a winning equation. Your fans may not be checking your website regularly, so it’s important to drive traffic there through social media. Loyal followers make for strong brand advocates. If fans love a deal they see on Twitter or on Facebook, they can easily share it with friends and family, too.

Who’s responsible for your social strategy this holiday season? Let the pros handle it so you can enjoy feasting with family and friends! The only downside? You won’t have any excuses for showing up to that potluck without a good dish!

Here Comes Santa Claus: What Can St. Nick Teach Us About Social Media?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Jolly Old St. Nick may be a luddite of sorts (as far as we know, he still employs an old-fashion sleigh and a generous dose of magic to get most of his work done) but that doesn’t mean he can’t teach you a thing or two about how to use social media. Here are some tips, straight from Santa’s Workshop, to help you out in the final stretch towards Christmas.

It Takes a (Christmas) Village

Santa doesn’t do it all on his own. He has an entire workshop of elves working full time to help him out. In the same way, it’s important to get everyone on your team thinking about the ways they can maximize your business’s presence on social networks. Customer service representatives can field incoming questions, while marketing associates can be on hand at events live-tweeting or uploading pictures to Instagram. As long as all efforts are connected to an overarching strategy led by a dedicated user, there’s no reason to fear too many cooks in the kitchen. Assign one person to be the dedicated user. They'll be responsible for filtering content and making sure the overall message is cohesive while the other elves work away. 

It Doesn’t Pay to be Naughty

A good social media strategy is all about transparency, but when you’re being honest and open, it can be hard to conceal your flaws. In an age where your customers know more about you than ever before, it pays to be nice--not naughty. Throwing an epic tantrum online every time something doesn’t go your way is a sure ticket to getting coal in your stocking.

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, He Knows When You’re Awake

Okay, so that particular line has always struck us as more than a little bit creepy, but it does shine a light on an important aspect of your social strategy: monitoring. If you’ve built a strong online presence on your social networks throughout the year, don’t be surprised to see an uptick of traffic during the holiday season. That’s because more people are doing online shopping than ever before. Just take a look at this year’s blockbuster Cyber Monday sales. The holidays are an essential time to keep a closer eye on your social networks because customers expect you to answer questions about things like shipped packages and special deals. Ignoring questions on social media is a sure way to encourage customers to move on.

Keep an Open Ear

You can walk into any mall in America and find an attentive Santa carefully listening, poised to grant holiday wishes as best he can. Listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Do they wish you had special holiday hours so they can sneak in some holiday shopping? Are they hungry for end-of-the-year deals? Like Santa, you may not be able to fulfill every Christmas list, but by carefully listening to your customers, you’ll have a better idea of what they really want from you.

The biggest lesson of all? Keep things jolly. It’s the holiday season, after all. It’s a time of year to make sure your customers know you’re grateful for them, so be generous and create special coupons, in-store events and exclusive deals to give something back! Only Santa Claus can go around the world in one night and grant everyone’s wishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to making the holiday season special for the people who support your business all year round.

4 Common Pitfalls of Social Media

Social Sonar - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” We don’t know if Einstein ever envisioned a world of digital information dominated by social media, but he may as well have been talking about marketing in the era of Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not embracing all the marketing tools the web has to offer, you may be playing it too safe. If the idea of making mistakes has you shying away from social media, check out these four common pitfalls.

Trying to be Everywhere at Once

Are you on every social media platform imaginable? It’s a good idea to have a presence on multiple networks, but don’t spread yourself too thin by thinking that you have to be everywhere at once! Instead, think about your target demographic and then discover which platforms your target audience is using the most. This article from Nonprofit Quarterly offers a great breakdown of some statistics surrounding social media and the types of users that can be found on each network. If you know information about your target audience, such as age or income, you can zero in on the social channels that these users are most likely to be engaging through.

Jumping In Without a Plan

Just like any other aspect of your overall marketing plan, your social media strategy needs to follow a plan. Social media is an incredible dynamic tool. Different organizations and businesses will harness its power in the way that best suits their needs. Before you start publishing and engaging with fans, ask yourself, “What can I do through social media that I’m not already achieving through other marketing approaches?” Some of your goals might include growing awareness around your brand, providing round-the-clock customer service online, or boosting revenue from your online store during the holiday season. Check out this list of the 12 Most Attainable Goals on Social Media to get the ball rolling.

Being a Broadcaster

Many marketers accustomed to traditional forms of communication may easily slip into this common pitfall. The old dynamic of publishing as a one-way street doesn’t work with digital marketing, so look for opportunities to improve engagement whenever you can. Using social media is as much about creating a space for customers to talk about you (and to you) as it is about you broadcasting information them. As part of your social media plan, you might consider setting some ground rules around how much of your content constitutes broadcasting and how much of it is geared towards maximizing engagement.

Measuring Too Much or Too Little

We’re living in an era where many decisions are built on big data, and many social networks have built-in tools that can give you great insight into the habits of your fans. Learning that most of your Facebook followers are from out of state might make you change the way you approach your business. Monitoring the type of content that garners the most engagement might also shape the kind of information you publish and ultimately help you grow your online following. But getting too bogged down with numbers can be detrimental to your overall strategy. On the other hand, tracking and logging every “like” and “retweet” is unlikely to yield any gains. Focus on tracking the outcomes that are most closely linked to your overall marketing goals and you’ll find it easier to parse out useful data from the white noise.

Are you a veteran when it comes to using social media to grow your business? Or are you just starting to dip your toes in the water? In either case, there is always something to learn! Share your own stories of pitfalls you’ve encountered below.

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.


Is a Backlash Against Smartphones and Social Media on the Horizon?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Did you catch this video a few weeks ago? It quickly made its way around the Internet and became a viral hit with smartphone owners who recognized their own anxiety at the thought of making it through the day without their favorite mobile device.

The video features friends at parties, restaurants and at outdoor get-togethers opting to engage in the mediated social connections available through their phones and disregarding the social connections they could be making in person.

Sound familiar? With social media at your fingertips, it can be hard to put your phone aside, focus on the present moment and disconnect from the ever-present fear that you might be missing out on something else.

The sight of friends and family experiencing and observing a birthday party through the screen in their palm is more than a little dystopian, and it seems like the Internet agrees that we’re at a crucial point when it comes to considering the role of technology in our lives.

With more than 23 million views on YouTube, it’s clear that the makers of this short film have really struck a chord with people. More than one person who commented on the video vowed to stay off their phone for a while-- a smartphone sabbatical, if you will. Louis CK’s own thoughts on smartphones also went viral, showing how many people relate to the idea of living in a culture of distractions often provided by smartphones.

With more people questioning the way in which Internet connectivity is becoming more integrated into our daily lives, could there be a social media backlash brewing?

One thing's for certain, mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. In fact, some are even suggesting that there could be more mobile devices than people before the year is out! Take a moment to let that sink in. On a planet populated by billions of people, there would be more portals to engage in social media than there are actual human beings.  

If you think smartphones are ubiquitous now, just wait. As they continue to lower in price, they’ll become even more accessible to people from different walks of life, not just those with disposable income. Some companies are even flirting with the idea of free smartphones, although the idea of what constitutes “free” is more than a little bit tricky. Wearable technology will also increase people’s access to the Internet wherever they go, augmenting their experience of daily life and creating cyborg-like citizens that confirm the worst fears of luddites. 

Of course, what we are talking about when it comes to “intentional” social media use is really a cultural issue. While the rise of mobile technology is predictable, it’s harder to predict how people will respond to it. Will we embrace the integration of more technology into our lives by living in virtually altered presentations of the world around us? Will we modify our bodies to be closer to the technology that lets us connect with others through the Internet?

Taking a break from social media and mobile technology can be a healthy goal. But small business owners can’t ignore that it’s an integral part of their overall marketing strategy. The reach, level of interaction and sustained connectivity it offers is just too great to pass on when it comes to building a strong brand. Like other useful technological advancements that have helped entrepreneurs broaden their reach, it’s important to reach a balance.

Target the time you spend online by setting and following clear intentions when you log on. Set time limits for yourself when you’re on social media to force yourself to be more productive. For some suggestions on how to maximize your time online, you can follow our advice for avoiding the slippery slope down the social media rabbit hole.

Consider creating zero-tech zones for your friends and family where you promise to set aside your smartphones for a designated amount of time and focus on fully engaging with one another in person. You’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to appreciating and making the most of online and real-time social connections. Your business and your personal life will be all the better for it!

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 Gaffes: Domino's Apologizes for Great Pizza

Social Sonar - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Some people really can’t take criticism. But you know what can be even more embarrassing? Not being able to take a compliment. That’s exactly what happened to Domino’s Pizza this past week when they accidentally responded to praise from a customer with an apology.

A social media faux pas is not the end of the world, and while it’s important to know how to bounce back from one, isn’t it even better to avoid having one altogether? Here are some important lessons learned from Domino’s Pizza mistaken social media “delivery.”

The "Domino's" Effect

If you have enough followers and brand recognition, your mistake is bound to be amplified through hundreds or even thousands of followers sharing the flub. A mistake might seem small, but it can have big ripple effects. In this case, it weakens the perception of a confident brand. 

Real Time Monitoring is the Way to Go

Automated messages may be a way to save you time, but they can’t replace the watchful eye and good judgement of a real person. A bot who is programmed to create responses based on keywords may not be able to generate the best response because it’s unable to understand the context of the original message. Allotting time and resources to a dedicated user will make your messaging more personable and responsive to changing scenarios.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Profile

When people engage you on social media, it’s in the hopes of reaching a real person on the other side. One of the things that’s frustrating about a mistake like this is watching the curtain roll back to reveal that there was an impostor there all along! With too much automation, you run the risk of losing sight of your original mission: greater access to the people who make up your company and can best communicate your core values online.

Don’t Expect the Worse

With any online interaction, it’s best to go in with a positive attitude. When you assume the worst,you may be the one unintentionally manifesting your most dreaded scenario.A gaffe like the one Domino’s experienced could betray your own insecurities about your product, and that’s unlikely to inspire confidence from your fans!

What do you think Domino should do differently in the future? Have you experienced a similar gaffe using automation? Share your thoughts below!

Facebook Profile or Fan Page?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, August 07, 2013

For those of you joining this program already in progress, it’s hard to deny that Facebook has become a virtual, modern-day version of the yellow pages-- with one glaring exception: you can actually interact with the listed companies in real time.

In the same way that you wouldn’t want your business excluded from something as essential as a phone book, refusing to list yourself on Facebook is a choice that limits your visibility and gives your competitors an upper hand. But when you do make the choice to jump into the fray, is it with a profile page or a fan page?

Facebook Profiles

Facebook profiles are the types of accounts that most individual users have. Your mom, your friends and possibly even your pets have these kinds of pages. Everyone with a Facebook Profile also has a timeline, where you update your status, pictures, links and videos. You can also easily send friend requests to connect with others. Unless your profile is set to be as public as possible, users will have to friend you before they can access content on your timeline.

Facebook Fan Pages

Facebook fan pages are a little different. For one thing, users can look at content directly as soon as they make the choice to “like” your page. This shortcuts the step of waiting for approval from a friend request. Fan pages have built in tools that help you keep track of who is following you. Unlike Facebook profiles, there is no upper limit on how many people subscribe to your updates-- a big advantage for a brand! If you want to create subcategories of content for fans to explore, you can build custom tabs. Fan pages are also indexed in Facebook’s search engine, which makes it easier for followers to find you.

It’s probably clear that for most of your business needs, a fan page makes the most sense. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business through your personal profile as well. Just make sure that when you’re representing your business you do so through your fan page. That helps to build the identity of your brand, give it a voice and build a following connected to your product or service rather than just one individual.

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!