While you may certainly join #TeamFollowBack on Twitter and gain thousands of followers in a matter of weeks, there are no guarantees that your fellow Follow Back-ers are interested in what you may post. In fact, other than seeing other posts encouraging people to follow-back, you will probably never have another interaction with that person again. What is the point of 10,000 followers or fans if none of them are interested in your brand?
This is why social media is about quality, not quantity. While you do want to grow your fan base organically through fans sharing your interesting posts, you want each of your fans to actually have an interest in what you are posting.
One way to help grow your fan base and gain quality followers is to increase positive interactions with some of your more enthusiastic fans. If you have a fan (or three) who are always promoting your product on Facebook without prompting, find ways to thank them, which will encourage future promotions. Your interactions on Facebook or Twitter may be seen by other fans or friends of that fan and provide free advertisement for your business. As potential fans see that your company responds to posts and thanks their followers, it will encourage them to also "like" or follow your business.
We are going to sound like a broken record, but here is your best plan of action:
~ Post quality content, which encourages interactions with your fans.
~ Be consistent with your posts (by that, we mean: don't post several times per day for a week then disappear for a month).
~ Identify key fans and offer them a discount or free gift as a way of saying thank you.
~ Be patient. Building an army of quality followers requires time.
How do you define a "quality" fan? How many fans do you feel like you need to have in order to consider social media a successful marketing avenue?
According to a survey by Forrester.com, even though 92% of those polled agree that social media has "fundamentally changed how consumers engage with brands," only 49% of marketers have "fully integrated" social media into their marketing strategy. Have you included social media in your marketing plan?
Here are four tips for successfully including social media in your marketing plan:
Choose Your Platform Wisely
There are so many social media sites. Choose yours wisely. We have discussed various popular sites in many of our blog posts and recently touched upon some smaller sites HERE. The big sites for many businesses are Facebook and Twitter. Other possible sites are YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr or Google+ (among others), depending upon your customer base. Don't waste time on all of these sites, however. Choose one at a time and test the waters slowly.
Utilize E-mail Newsletters
It is essential to include links to your website, Facebook fan page, Twitter profile and other social media pages in your newsletter. You can also highlight upcoming specials and events. Newsletters are great because e-mails can be saved and read when your customer has a few minutes. Often posts on social media sites can get lost in a busy news feed, so reiterating certain posts in a newsletter is important.
If you missed our previous post on e-mail newsletters, you can read it HERE.
Create Events on Facebook
Do you have an open house or other special event coming up? Create an event on Facebook! It is a fast, easy and FREE way to invite your fans to your store (make sure you include the Facebook event link in your newsletter). You can store photos, websites, or other information important for the event all in one location. You can also encourage fans to invite their friends (perhaps you can offer a discount or special for those guests who arrive first).
Read our previous post about fundraising events using social media sites HERE.
Content is Key
Whether we are talking about your website, your social media profiles or your newsletter, content is key. If you are not posting interesting and engaging information, your customers are not going to read your posts. Remember to engage your customer in a conversation rather than selling to them. Your content should add value for your audience, and should not overtly sell anything, which makes people want to share it with their network as well. You can read our previous post about the disconnect between brands and consumers HERE.
Keep in mind that building your brand using social media is a process. Have you officially implemented social media into your marketing plan? Tell us about it here!
Although most "experts" agree your business must incorporate social media of some sort into its marketing plan, you could spend days implementing the various suggestions being thrown out on the Internet. Here we talk about the four essentials of making social media work for you.
Building an empire does not happen overnight. Plan to invest some time in your social media marketing. You must have patience while you build a fan base and determine which strategies work best for your company. For some companies, posting photos works well. For others, it may be holding contests. For most, it is a combination of interesting photos, questions, contests and discount offers. The goal is to post items that compel your fans to re-share, which promotes your business.
At the same time, you must choose your platforms wisely. Facebook is usually a given. Twitter is a close second. Past that, you may have to do a little digging into your customer base to figure out which other social media sites, if any, are worth your time, including Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, etc. There are many, many social media websites available. However, if the majority of your customer base is on Facebook and/or Twitter, you may not find that spending time on other sites justifies the cost.
You cannot post one status update to Facebook each month and expect to be flooded with new business. Over-posting is also a problem. You may need to experiment with how much you can post without frustrating your followers. Some experts recommend daily posting. Some will say weekly. Consistency, however, is key.
Use analytical tools to determine when users are most likely viewing your page, and then schedule certain posts to go up at that time. The majority of Facebook fans rarely visit a fan page again after they have "liked" it (likewise for followers on Twitter). Therefore, you need to post items at times they will show up in the news feeds of the most fans. If you are posting at odd hours, your fans may never see your posts.
In addition, make sure there are some personal posts and responses to posts made to your page(s). Only posting links to your website and products/service to buy can cause customers to no longer "like" your Facebook fan page or to un-follow you on Twitter.
Unfortunately, social media is no longer free. Sure, you can set up your fan page on Facebook or your account on Twitter for free. But to reach the friends of your fans and expand your presence, you have to spend time creating and responding to messages. You may also want to consider paid ads. Almost all of the big social media sites now offer them.
In addition, if you are spending too much time monitoring your pages, your money could be well-spent hiring a social media management company, or buying software to help with the scheduling of your posts.
A Facebook fan page is not enough. Every business needs its own website. In fact, in order to help raise your ranking in any search engine, all of your social media pages should include a link back to your website.
Think of your website as a train hub station, with your social media accounts acting as the trains racing in and out of the station. At some point, all of those trains will need to come home.
Is your social media plan working for you? Using social media to promote your business doesn't have to be painful. If you are struggling to find the time to build a successful social media plan, give Social Sonar a call!
The #1 thing every business wants from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and blogs is money, either from current customers or returning ones. Measuring the effect of your blog, email newsletter, and Facebook and Twitter accounts without coupon codes is a nearly impossible task.
There is compelling evidence social media helped you make sales, whether you realized it or not.
When someone searches for your company on Google, some of the links that normally show up in the search results are your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp pages. The searcher may decide to make a purchase based on what they see on these sites, whether your realize it or not.
One of our customers is a chiropractor who used to rely heavily on Yellow Pages. He had a new client come in and cite Yellow Pages as her source for finding the business. During the course of her appointment, however, she admitted to reading his recent blog posts, and they helped her make the final decision to use his services.
A few years ago, it wasn't guaranteed every business had a website. Almost all business owners now realize the importance of having a website to allow customers to find them. A Facebook page and Twitter account are just as important now as a website was then. Having these pages shows your business is up-to-the times, and thus thriving.
Expand Your Presence
People love to share what they are doing, where they are going, and the coolest new things they found. People often tag businesses in posts. If you don't have a Facebook page or Twitter handle, you're missing out on free word-of-mouth advertising. On the converse, the ability to be tagged in posts allows your current customers to easily introduce new, potential customers to your business.
One of our customers owns a loose leaf tea store. His customers often mention his Twitter handle in their tweets and tag his Facebook fan page in their posts as a way to brag about going to his store or post a picture of themselves enjoying his tea.
Raise Your Rank and Reduce Paid Marketing Costs
Having a higher search engine ranking naturally leads to more sales and cheaper Cost Per Click. The higher your natural search rank is on Google, the less you pay for AdWords bids. Thankfully, your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all raise the ranking of your website for better visibility and more sales.
The simple truth is customers now increasingly expect you to have a social media presence. Whether your efforts on these platforms yield sales all depends on how active you are and how often you engage your customers.
1) Facebook has purchased photo-sharing software company, Instagram, for 1 beeelion dollars. In his official announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg says, “For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.” Link to Story.
2) On Saturday, Quebec juice maker Lassonde was forced to settle a lawsuit after intense online backlash. After the details of the Lassonde’s 7-year trademark battle with a tiny beauty company over the use of the name “Oasis” went viral, a social media uprising gave the “juice giant” a big reality check. Link to Story.
3) Google has beaten out Apple, Facebook, and Twitter for the title of Most Popular Tech Brand. According to the poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, a whopping 82 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Google overall, while 53 percent hold a "strongly" favorable opinion of the expansive Internet company. In regards to favorability, Apple still came in a close second. Link to Story.
4) A New Study has pegged Pinterest as the #3 Social Media Website
Experian Hitwise has collated website visitors for the last month, and ranks Pinterest as the number 3 social media website, behind Facebook and Twitter, and just ahead of LinkedIn. Here are the top 6:
1. Facebook: 7 billion
2. Twitter: 182 million
3. Pinterest: 104 million
4. LinkedIn: 86 million
5. Tagged: 72 million
6. Google+: 61 million
Link to Story.
Facebook currently has over 850 million users. Twitter isn't far behind, with 500 million signed up for the service. Social media is defined as web sites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts. Due to the rising popularity of social media websites, the way humans communicate is changing.
Like never before, we are able to keep in touch with high school sweethearts, former colleagues, and old BFFs. Facebook makes it easy, allowing us to simply click the "like" button, a virtual round of applause, rather than forcing us to actually respond to posts. If someone posts something especially funny or interesting, a click of the "share" button allows us to show our approval by passing that post on to the rest of our friends. Never have we been so connected...without actually having to connect.
For those using social media to promote a business, it reiterates that we should be having conversations with potential customers. Those who only try to "sell" their service or product on social media sites often find their fans tire quickly of the tactic and stop following them. However, if a company is posting interesting and engaging content -- posts worthy of comments and re-posting -- they start a conversation with their fans, which builds their brand.
Many of us are still navigating the twists and turns of the social media game. One thing is clear, however. Communication is a two-way street. Use social media to spark conversations that keep potential customers coming back to your site. If you provide a fun and interesting social media scene that your customers want to visit, you will increase the chances that those visitors will make a purchase from your company later.
What kinds of content do you post to engage customers on your social media sites?
Twitter still appears to be the second most powerful social media site (topped only by Facebook). Here are some tips to increase your Twitter followers:
- Completely fill out your bio, including location (if you aren't
world-wide) and website. Incomplete or vague bios can cause people to
wonder if you are a spam bot. Complete bios also make you more "followable" as part of Twitter's Suggested User page.
- Cross-post your Twitter handle on other social media sites: Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. Also, include your Twitter information (and, while you're at it, your Facebook fan page and website) in your e-mail signature block.
- Include hashtags (#), which will help when users are searching certain topics.
- This one is simple, but powerful: Ask your followers to re-tweet your posts. It exposes your Twitter handle to all of the re-tweeter's followers.
- When your customers are in the store, let them know you're on Twitter (have a sign on your counter, put a sticker or stamp on receipts, have business cards with your social media sites on them).
- Tweet photos. Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest have proven that photos are big business. If the goal is to gain re-tweets, then posting interesting photos is a good start.
- Follow popular Twitter accounts and see what is working for them.
- Track your users. Use Qwitter to find out when someone un-follows you after a certain tweet.
Are you using Twitter? Do you have any tips that have worked for you and your business?
Facebook has 800 million users. Although those with a Facebook profile generally leave their browser open for many hours a day, most are not actually on Facebook to buy items. They are there to connect with friends and socialize. So advertising to the Facebook users requires patience. You should target users based on their interests to create a connection and build a relationship, however you should not try to sell directly to them.
LinkedIn has 100 million users, the majority of which are there for professional reasons. Over one million are high-ranking executives with decision making authority. LinkedIn is best used for business to business marketing.
Reddit receives millions of visitors. If you are not familiar with Reddit, it is a social site that allows users to submit links, then allows other users to vote those submission "up" or "down," so that popular posts are more easily found. The site can be useful to help create viral ad campaigns and cause awareness.
StumbleUpon calls itself a "discovery engine" that finds web content for its users. It "recently passed Facebook as the highest traffic referrer of any website." To catch the StumbleUpon user's attention, Kissmetrics suggests flashy photos and catchy headlines. They tout StumbleUpon's paid platform as possibly the best of all the social media sites.
Twitter is still finding its way in the marketing world. Apparently Twitter users are multi-taskers who are easily distracted. Kissmetrics does warn that you need a fairly large marketing budget to advertise on Twitter. However, if you are building a brand, the return on investment can be significant.
Have you tried advertising on any social media sites? Let us know how it worked for you!
The Social Media Guide recently released its list of four free Twitter
tools they suggest users download. We agreed with their list and wanted
to share it as well.
The first is Twilert. Twilert allows you to set keyword alerts so that when people tweet about topics you might be interested in, you will receive an e-mail alert. You can opt to receive your alerts in one e-mail so that you don't receive hundreds of e-mails each day. You can also limit your searches to certain areas so that you are not following people who may be too far away to affect your business.
Next is TweetStats. For this site, you need only supply a Twitter name. You do not need to sign up or login. You can use it to track your own stats, or another user's stats. It will tell you how often one tweets, when they tweet and which word(s) they use most often.
SocialOomph is next on the list. The site has many features but one is the option to schedule when tweets are sent. It also allows you to track keywords. For a fee, it will follow back people who followed you and send direct messages to new followers.
Last on this list is Twitterfeed. This helps you connect your blog to Twitter. It tracks clicks and lets you choose which site you use to shorten your link. You can also connect it to LinkedIn and Facebook for updates.
There are many, many tools to help you with Twitter. Have you tried any of these tools or any others not mentioned? We'd love to hear about your experiences!
A web analytics company, comScore, just released a report called "It's a
Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where
It's Headed." Here are some of the highlights, which you can use to help plan where you should spend time promoting your business.
~ Social networking sites have a combined 1.2 billion users, which is 82% of the world's population
~ Nearly 80% of adults over the age of 55 are now connected on social media sites (the fastest rising group)
~ Women between the ages of 15 and 24 spend the most time on social media sites (approximately 8.6 hours per week; 1.1 hours more than their male counterparts)
~ Nearly 1/3 of the U.S. with mobile phones (aged 13 and over) are accessing social media sites on their phone (that number goes up to 64% for those with smart phones with almost 40% doing so every single day)
~ Facebook alone reaches more than half of the world (55%)
~ Facebook accounts for approximately 3 in every 4 minutes of time spent on social networking sites (and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online)
~ Twitter reaches 1 in 10 Internet users worldwide (and has grown 59% in the last year)
~ Google+ is up to 65 million users worldwide, although many still continue to doubt its staying power
Although this report generalizes the world's social media use, you may better know where your customers are "hanging out" on the Internet. Perhaps simply asking them which site is their favorite will help you determine which social media sites are worth your time.
Which sites are you currently using for your business?