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The Tweet Beat: Twitter's New Layout

Social Sonar - Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can you believe it? Twitter isn’t even ten years old and it’s already going under the knife for a little nip and tuck. The platform is getting ready for some cosmetic changes and you’re due to start seeing updates soon. If you’ve bemoaned the fact that Twitter’s layout doesn’t give you enough room to customize, we think you’ll be excited about this new iteration. If you hate change and always liked Twitter for its more streamlined approach, you may not be in love with what’s in store.

The new design isn't ready to spread its wings and leave the nest jsut yet, but you may have already been prompted at login to check out the new interface. Some users have already made the switch over, but changes are being slowly rolled out to give you time to become familiar with features. Here are some things to keep an eye out for.

Embedded Images and Video

Users won’t have to rely on dropdowns to view a full image or video. Instead, they’ll be able to see media directly in their feeds. What does that mean for you? Keep creating and sharing compelling visuals. Twitter has always been about pithy messaging, but there’s no doubt that photos, video, and other visuals drive engagement. That's especially true now that media will be directly visible in users feeds. 

More Room to Show Off Your Brand

There’s more room to represent your brand in Twitter’s new layout. The biggest and most obvious change is a banner up top that’s entirely customizable. It’s not unlike a cover photo on Facebook or a banner that you might upload to your company’s LinkedIn page. You’ll also notice that your own profile picture is bigger and set to the left, along with your headline and bio. It’s a good time to create a strong visual that represents you well, because it will leave a lasting impression on people who visit your Twitter page.

Highlight Specific Tweets

Tweets come and go so quickly. That’s always been the nature of Twitter’s messaging system, but with the new design, you’ll be able to hang onto the tweets that matter most. Users will have the option of pinning important tweets to the top of the page, so if you have a great comment from a customer, or a tweet about an upcoming event, you can leave it there for more followers to see.

If some of these changes seem familiar, it’s probably no coincidence. Many users have complained about Facebook’s changing algorithm, which has severely limited organic reach. Twitter’s update could be a savvy move to capture fleeing users who are already familiar with Facebook’s look and feel.

Curious about more changes and features? Check out this article for more information. Looking for some inspiration on making the best of the new layout? Here are 40 Twitter accounts that are already using the new profile.

What do you think about the changes? Are you excited about the possibilities? Or are you already pining for the old layout? Share your thoughts below.

Using Your Values to Define your Social Strategy

Social Sonar - Thursday, March 13, 2014

At the core of every endeavor is a mission statement, and that mission statement is built on values. What does your company value? What got you started on the crazy adventure of running a business, organization or campaign? The answer to those questions shapes everything you do on a daily basis and can naturally tie into your social strategy too.

One of the signs that you’re not spending enough time on your strategy is a lack of cohesion in “voice.” What does that mean? Content is all over the place and copy sounds like it comes from a multitude of authors instead of a single, confident source. If this scatter-brained approach sounds a bit like you, it’s time to revisit your values and build your approach to social media from there.

How can the mission of your business or organization naturally dovetail with your digital marketing efforts? Here are some examples.

Transparency

Looking to peel back the curtain and let folks see what’s going on behind the scenes? Social media provides access and dispels secrecy. You can have open and ongoing conversations about changes in staff that might make your followers nervous or a move to a new location that could have some fans bummed out. If part of your mission is to be open and accessible, sharing news and information about yourself is a natural extension of that directive.

Customers First

Is part of your mission to deliver the best customer service experience possible? Social media has become a go-to destination for fans with customer service questions. A robust approach to monitoring and handling requests in a timely way is a vital part of a sound social strategy. That means making sure you have enough dedicated staff hours to keeping an eye on all of your social platforms and being ready to deal with things like undelivered packages or misplaced orders. 

Increasing Connection

Maybe you’re networking to organize around a social cause, or maybe you just want a way to stay in touch with the many people who visit your store every day. Social networks allow an unprecedented level of connection. If part of your mission is to break out of your silo and engage like minded individuals, businesses or organizations around you, working on social media is a dynamic tool to help you live out that goal.

Those are three big directives that can start to shape the framework of how you approach social media, but don’t forget that the values you practice in person everyday should also be reflected in the way you work on social media. Do you have an office culture built around expressing gratitude towards your co-workers? You can extend that into your social strategy by thanking customers and followers too. If part of your organization’s ethical philosophy involves protecting the privacy of your staff members, that could mean staying far away from content that shines a bright light on employees. If, above all, you value stirring the pot, taking shots at authority figures or subverting the normal order of things, your social strategy should be a direct reflection of that irreverent spirit.

So which comes first--the chicken or the egg? Without a strong sense of your values and mission, it’s hard to build a social strategy that accomplishes your goals. If your social strategy is ailing, it might be a sign that you’re not sure exactly what it is you’re trying to communicate to the rest of the world in any medium. Take on the task of defining your values and a social strategy that feels more authentic to you and your followers is sure to follow.

What Kind of Conversations Are You Having on Twitter?

Social Sonar - Thursday, March 06, 2014

Are you a data nerd? You might already be in the habit of tracking engagement on big social platforms like Twitter. In an effort to make things more of a two-way street, you may have set up a system to compare the amount of information you broadcast to the amount of posts that actively invite followers to participate. But is this binary view of content enough to represent the variety of interactions you have online? One new study says no.

In an interesting new set of findings, the Pew Center for Research reports that there are six different kinds of Twitter conversations happening online. Online chatter may seem random and chaotic when you’re engaged in it, but these six conversational archetypes shed some light on the overall patterns that give Twitter communities structure.

How can you include some of these new findings into your overall social strategy?

1. Take a look at the diagram that visualizes the six types of conversations. Which one do you think most closely resembles the conversations you typically have?

2. Take stock of the different models. Which ones represent broadcasting (information going out on a one-way channel) versus engagement (an ongoing dialogue with the opportunity for followers to reciprocate)?

3. Identify the types of conversations that your organization almost never participates in. Is this a natural extension of your business’s philosophy, or a missed opportunity for rethinking how you communicate?

4. Which model (or combination of models) best helps you achieve your social media goals? For instance, if your goal is to become a go-to destination for news in your industry, you might want to focus on content that results in a “In-Hub and Spoke” model.

5. Put the call out to other members of your team, whether they work in communications or not. What kind of conversations do they typically see your business engaged in on Twitter? This could lead to some revelatory information about the role and purpose of your organization on and offline (Do you exist to strike up polarizing conversations around social issues? Act as a support for questions and requests? Or something else?). 

Curious to know how the folks at the Pew Center were able to capture all this information? Take a look at the full study here and learn more about their methodology. What do you think about this approach to thinking about Twitter conversations? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

How to Avoid Stoking your Customer’s Rage on Social Media

Social Sonar - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hell hath no fury like a loyal customer scorned, especially when that customer is armed with social media tools and ready to broadcast their rage to the rest of their network with just one click. Wading into a landscape where customers and brands are interacting at an unprecedented level can seem like walking through a landmine at times. One wrong move, and...kaboom!

So how do you avoid turning a legion of followers into a firing squad? Well, crossing your fingers and hoping that you never upset your customers is a nice wish, but it’s unlikely to happen. Here are a few tips for avoiding confrontations with customers online.

Be transparent and honest

If something goes wrong, apologize. Most customers are reasonable people, and they’ll appreciate the fact that you owned up to a mistake. Honestly explaining what went wrong will go a long way in mending your relationship.

Destroy Your Doppelgangers

Staying away from social media? You may think you’re sidestepping the issue of dealing with customers entirely, but that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t doing it for you! By staying off of social media, you might be creating a vacuum that lets a copycat impersonate you. Who knows what they could be saying on your behalf. Get online and root out your doppelgangers by becoming the official voice for your own business.

Don’t Go After Customers

Don’t get engaged in petty squabbles on social media and don’t continue to badger customers after you’ve resolved an issue. Don't take the bait either. Customers might try to lure you into a fight, but take the higher ground.

Avoid Polarizing Topics

Think of social media like the Thanksgiving table. Do you really want to bring up volatile issues like politics and religion? If your business (or non-profit organization) is built around taking a decisive stance on some issue, then you should always make your point of view loud and clear. But make sure you’re always promoting respectful dialogue. You’re more likely to win hearts and minds and lose less followers.

Respond Quickly

Social media is a real time medium. The rules of engagement for social media demand a quick response from you. If you’re not monitoring closely, you might easily miss the fact that someone is loudly complaining about you. Several people may actively be calling you out and soon enough you’ll have a full blown PR issue on your hands.

Resolve Things Privately

You don’t have to drag out your dirty laundry in front of everyone. Make use of private messaging features that you can find on most social media platforms. If someone brings up an issue that’s better resolved between the two of you, kindly ask them to direct message you, or take the lead and message them first.

Dealing with a particularly angry person can always leave a bad taste in your mouth. Sometimes, they come on so aggressively that it’s hard not to snap back. Take a deep breath, relax and listen. What they’re saying about you might hurt at first, but with some time and a truly open mind, you might discover that a complaint sets the stage for important changes you need to make.

Have you dealt with the mighty wrath of an enraged customer before? Have they put you on blast to all of their friends? Sometimes it helps to think about that customer coming into your store and dealing with you in person. What would you say to them? What would you offer to make it up to them? Share your approach to disgruntled customers in the comments section below and include some ways that you can translate that to the world of social media.


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.