Monthly Archives: August 2011

Is Tumblr a Useful Social Media Platform for Your Business?

With the global explosion of social networks in the late 2000’s many businesses wonder which social network is the most beneficial for engaging with their customers. Facebook and Twitter are recognized as excellent platforms to promote businesses and interact with potential clients. What about Tumblr? Can Tumblr be useful for businesses as they engage with customers and potential customers?

As with most things, the answer is relative. What type of service or product does your business offer? What is your targeted demographic? Does your demographic use social media? If so, does your target audience prefer posts that are text-intensive or image-intensive, or a combination of both? These are the types of questions you should be asking  yourself as you design your social media strategy.

Before you decide either way, let’s explore exactly what Tumblr is, how it is used and who uses it:

  • 56% of monthly users are under the age of 34, 52% of these users are male
  • About half of Tumblr’s 14 million daily posts are image based
  • Allows users to post text, images, links, quotes, audio, and video

Tumblr was created in 2007, by David Karp and Marco Arment, as a micro-blogging service that would allow users to easily post video, text, images, quotes, links, and audio, as well as their own existing blogs. As of 2009, Tumblr had an 85% retention rate of users, compared with only 40% for Twitter. That retention rate, alongside the nearly 15,000 new users everyday, Tumblr is seen as a definite rival to Twitter in the near future.

Businesses looking at long-term goals for social media marketing should realize Tumblr is an up-and-coming social network, such as Facebook was in 2006-2007. Its cross-platform usability is appealing to many types of businesses as a way to best engage with customers. Check out these blogs here and here for information on whether or not Tumblr is right for your small business.

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What Facebook’s Newest Privacy Changes Mean for Your Business

Recently, Facebook announced that their new privacy settings would be taking effect August 25, starting with one percent of their 750 million users. The changes to Facebook’s wildly unpopular approach to user privacy settings is most likely a result of the rise Google+. Because users can easily and accurately control who sees what information, businesses could potentially have a more difficult time trying to connect with users. Here’s a quick summary of how Facebook’s new privacy changes may affect your company:

    • On the upper right corner of the screen, there will be a new drop down menu where users can choose which information to display to the public (Facebook’s new profile redesign looks oddly similar to Google+, hmmm…). While users had this capability before in their setting page, the new drop down menu is more easily and quickly accessible. The new accessibility of this feature could mean more users do not publicly share information that could draw attention to your business (such as check-its, tags, etc.)
    • Users will now be able to tag non-friends in status updates and pictures. This change could actually be beneficial to your business as people who have not taken the time to actually “like” you can tag you in their status, resulting in more exposure for your business.
    • Before posting a status update or picture, you can choose who can see it by choosing either public, friends, or custom. Again, this feature may decrease public exposure to your company if users are only sharing information to a select few.
    • Users can also more easily choose the “View Profile As” button from their profile (which was previously located in Setting) to view and possibly change what content is available to the public.
    • Another potentially beneficial new update is that users can now tag their location (such as your business) in their status updates, whereas it was only previously available via the “Check In” option through Facebook mobile.
    • Now, when tagged in status update by another person, you have the option to approve the tag or reject it. When tagged in a photo, users have the ability to remove the tag, ask the user to take down the photo, or block the user. This is also a beneficial update, as you can monitor who and how your business is tagged, preventing unwanted attention.

While a few of these new features have always been available under the users settings, Facebook is proving that they are ready to finally listen and act upon users’ complaints.  It is likely that businesses will have to adapt how they manager their profiles in order to accommodate the changes in how users protect and share their information. What is certain is that with the emergence of Facebook’s newest competition,  Google+, you can guarantee that these won’t be last of Facebook’s changes. Here’s another great article from Entrepreneur on how these changes are likely to affect your business.

The Value of LinkedIn for Social Networking Your Small Business

In today’s business world, social networking is a must. LinkedIn, as the world’s largest professional social network, is perfectly positioned for small businesses. Each day valuable connections are made on LinkedIn that add value to the bottom line. If you and your employees are not using LinkedIn, you may be missing out on some opportunities. LinkedIn can help you get new clients, give your company greater legitimacy in the corporate world, attract new employees, crowdsource solutions from experts in your business for questions your employees may have, and bring in more profits. You and your employees should set up a LinkedIn account that  highlights what you and your employees excel at. This results in clients or customers being able to see what your company can do for them.

Here are some of the best advantages of having a LinkedIn account:

  1. You can get new customers for your business by building online recommendations and word of mouth. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. 
  2. Build your industry network—online and in person. Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in. 
  3. Find answers to tough business questions you don’t know. Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topics here.
  4. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise. Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise. 

To see the full list of advantages check out this article by Guy Kawaski, co-founder oat AllTop corporate from his web column on American Express’ OPEN forum blog,

Dealing with Negative Feedback on Your Social Media Pages

If your business has a social media presence you have most likely had to wrestle with the question of how to deal with negative posts on your page. Should you remove them, respond to them, ignore them? These are important questions to think about as you develop your business’ social media presence.

One of the first things to consider is who posted the negative comment. Was it a customer? A competitor? A spammer? Or just someone trying to create trouble  (in social media lingo, they are called trolls)?

The next thing to think about is what kind of comment was it. Was it a complaint about an issue the commenter is having with your business? Was it constructive criticism with suggestions for improvement?  Is it spam from someone else extolling the virtues of their business? Is it an unmerited attack on your business by someone trying to create a stir?

Once you’ve determined who the comment is coming from and what kind of comment it is, you can now implement some tools to deal with it. While many businesses are tempted to simply remove negative comments, this isn’t always the best option. If the comment is coming from a customer or customers with a legitimate complaint, simply removing the comment can often make things worse and simply move the conversation to another online venue that you can’t control. If this is the type of comment that you are dealing with, it is better to acknowledge the issue and respond to the customer(s) either publicly or with an invitation to contact you privately to further discuss the issue. Remember that social media is an opportunity to engage with the customer and dealing quickly and honestly with complaints will earn your business respect and loyalty in the social media world. Southwest airlines comes to mind as a business that handles customer complaints well through social media. A quick visit to their Twitter page and you see a constant stream of conversations that address customer issues and complaints in a positive way.

What if it is constructive criticism that a commenter leaves on your page? As a small business owner, you are probably very passionate about what you do. You have probably poured hours of your own time into every aspect of your business. Its very personal for you and when someone criticizes your business, it is very easy to take it personally. So, even if you disagree with the post, it is important to acknowledge the comment politely and gratefully – yes, gratefully. Constructive criticism means that someone is payingattention and took the time to start a conversation with you. There may be times when it is appropriate to remove constructive criticism from a public forum, but you should always acknowledge the commenter for their feedback and their time. Also, remember to take this feedback seriously. Sometimes you may get a good idea from someone that took the time to write this kind of post if you are open-minded enough to listen. One example of a company that is getting this right is Dell. In 2007, Dell started Ideastorm, a website designed to collect ideas from their customers online. Dell has integrated Ideastorm into its own Twitter feed and their Facebook campaign. While not everyone is going to have the desire to be this open to the public’s ideas, it is good to remember that great things can come from crowdsourcing.

If the negative comment is either spam or an unwarranted attack by a troll, feel free to simply remove it. However, I would caution you to never engage in a  flame war with this type of commenter. Simply take the high road – remove the post and pretend like it never happened. Engaging in a tit-for-tat negative battle is not going to do you or your business any good.

In a perfect world no one would ever have anything negative to say about your business, but in the real world mistakes happen and it’s important to acknowledge them sincerely when they are brought to your attention. In other words, even in the virtual world, it’s important to keep it real.

4 Tips To Make Your Tweets Stand Out

Twitter is an extremely valuable resource for marketing your business. But  how do you ensure your tweets are read?  NowSourcing recently had a great blog post that included 1o Ways to Make Your Tweets Stand Out, but we narrowed the list down to what we think were the most important. Below are four excellent tips to make your tweets shine.

1. Be Original
Have fun and get creative with your tweets. With approximately 110 million tweets per day, users are bombarded with a large amount of information that can be redundant or boring. Social media is about connecting with people, so be personable and use your own voice when tweeting. This awesome slideshow on CNBC shows how the top ten companies using Twitter are successfully promoting their business and improving customer relations.

2. Be Short
Try to avoid tweeting a short story…with today’s hectic lifestyle users sometimes only have a few seconds to skim tweets so make sure to keeps your tweets concise and to the point. While Twitter does limit  your tweets to 140 characters, your followers are likely to skip over a tweet that is unusually long. Keeping your tweets short also ensures that there is enough room for others to retweet and include their own opinion. Hint-use links! Because 140 characters is such a limited space, you can post a link with your tweet to direct your followers to another web page, article, etc., with more information.

3. Time Your Tweets
Timing your tweets doesn’t mean publishing every fifteen minutes, but rather focusing when you tweet to the times your followers are most active. If you seem to receive the greatest number of replies and retweets during the afternoon, you should be the most active on Twitter that time of day as well. Hint-when tweeting, keep in mind that the Eastern Time Zone is the most populated time zone in the U.S so it is likely you will want to tweet during the times of day these people are most active on Twitter.

4. Provoke Thought
Your tweets should leave your followers thinking and wanting more. People love to be shocked by interesting statistics, so if you can, try to include these in your tweets. Your goal should be to create interest and get your followers talking. A tweet that makes people think will more likely result in a retweet or a reply, exposing your business to a larger pool of potential consumers. Take a look at some of 2010’s most retweeted tweets to see what they did right.

Be sure to keep these tweet tips in mind next time you tweet, but most importantly, have fun! If you are having fun, your tweets will definitely stand out amongst the crowd.

QR Code: An Acronym in Need of a Definition

In an effort to continue explaining and defining the various acronyms you may need to understand, today I bring you the QR Code. The acronym is short for quick response code. These two-dimensional bar codes are cropping up all over the place and if you don’t know what they are, you definitely need a quick tutorial. These codes can be scanned on mobile devices and provide the user with a plethora of information. It can link them to a website, social media site, videos, customer reviews, etc. depending on how they are set up and what platform the user is using to read the codes. If you want a more detailed explanation, check here and here.

There was an excellent article yesterday in The Business Insider explaining how to use QR codes to enhance your business. Here are the tips from the article that I think are the five most important: 1) make sure your QR code adds value or offers something special they can’t get from just your website; 2) make sure the site is mobile friendly; 3) provide original content so that you stand out among your competitors; 4) it should be easy to scan; and 5) make sure the links all work before you put it out there.

Also, the Social Media Examiner had an excellent post today about how to use QR codes in conjunction with your Facebook page.

Finally, check out this fun little video I put together.

Do You Speak Search Engine Optimization?

Many of you small business owners have either effectively utilized search engine optimization (SEO) or are in awe at the fact that whatever you type, the first thing that pops up is “Wikipedia” or some other big company. Well even though most people successfully use keywords and tags in the right amount or right places, SEO researchers have come to find that that’s not all you need to get to the top of the search engine.

SEO is now leaning more towards traffic, trust and authority of the host and even links from other sites that lead to your website. As a matter of fact, those three factors are the most influential when search engines rank your website, making over 2/3rds of Google’s ranking. This means that the conversation off your website is equally important as the action and traffic on your website. Essentially, “What people say about you is more important that what you say about yourself.”

So how do we get our compelling material noticed by other websites so that we can get these links and keywords on their page? This is where social media comes in: websites such as Twitter, Facebook and even blogs. Anything that will cause a stir among friends, critics or even clients where they may either like you on Facebook, link you on their posts/blogs or even talk about you on their websites or online articles. Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger and Scribe, writes not only about SEOs but also details “The 5 essential elements of search engine keyword research” that lays out tips for updating your SEO:

  1. Research tools: Use tools such as Google’ Keyword Tools which allows you to develop keywords for search engines.
  2. Be more Specific: Lean more towards key phrases instead of keywords. Use phrases such as “Tampa Media Marketing company” instead of just “media.”
  3. Relative Popularity: Your SEO may be skewed by the rest of the industry. Say, if you’re in a highly competitive industry, such as iPhone cases, your SEO may be affected by the popularity of the other dozens of comanies selling the same product. Regardless of how much better your product may be, check to see how your relative SEO is when compared to others in the same industry.
  4. Power in relevance: Even though the quantity of keywords may play a big factor in SEO, relevance plays an even bigger role. Don’t just through out any/every word that comes to mind if its not relevant to your company.
  5. Content Resourcing: Putting a bunch of keyword phrases and content related to your product or service all on one page. A great example is how Brian Clark created Copywriting 101: a 10-part tutorial on one page, linking all of his parts to this main page.

If social media and SEO seems a little overwhelming and kinda complex, don’t worry there’s always the option of getting someone else to worry about these trivial things for you. That’s what a social media marketing company is for.

How Many People Are Using Social Media?

A social media firm by the name of Hasai put out an interesting infograpic on social media today. Check out the post on Mashable by Ben Parr to see it for yourself. Here are the numbers that I found interesting:

  • 40% of Americans on social media platforms that are frequent users are following products, services, and brands
  • 47% of all Americans are now members of at least one social network
  • 28% of American adults say they give advice about purchases on social networking sites
  • 38 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 80 (that’s somewhere around 16%) are influenced by social media on their purchasing decisions, this is an increase of 14% in the last six months
So, what do these numbers mean for small businesses and their social media? Essentially, they just underscore how important it is to be present on social media, to be actively engaging your customers and clients, and to try to make most of those interactions positive. Its all about keeping the conversation going and to keep the conversation about how great your product, service, or brand is. Now, get out there!

Myspace: from Social Networking to Social Entertainment

Remember that giant social networking powerhouse called MySpace? It was the most popular social networking site in the U.S. from 2006 through 2008 but was taken over by Facebook in 2009 (currently the second most popular site in the U.S.). MySpace has since changed its name (to Myspace), its logo, and redesigned its website several times despite steadily losing visitors to Facebook. Myspace has even changed its target audience and most recently, changed owners. News Corp finally sold Myspace to Specific Media for $35 million in 2011 after buying it in 2005 for $580 million which is an insanely huge loss. Super pop star/actor/producer Justin Timberlake also purchased a substantial chunk of Myspace in hopes of bringing sexy back.

So what is Myspace good for now? Around 2006, Myspace was experimenting with allowing small businesses to promote themselves through pages and ads, but they were not as effective as Facebook. Myspace is, however, an ideal website for the entertainment business. Myspace has become very music and film prominent.  As a matter of fact, the first thing that comes to mind when a lot of people think of Myspace is music. This is great for huge major stars, directors, producers and musicians to promote their work as well as the much smaller almost “underground” entertainment companies to showcase their stuff. Just look at bands and musicians like Panic! At The Disco, Lilly Allen, Kate Nash and The Devil Wears Prada who owe much of their success to Myspace.

Unfortunately, other small businesses outside of the entertainment business would have a hard time advertising on Myspace. Myspace teamed up Citysearch to start MySpace Local, a virtual directory of local businesses essentially made “to promote [themselves] and communicate with consumers through a social lens.” Which was brilliant on paper but has since been scrapped to focus on the social entertainment aspect.

ROI: What does this acronym mean?

Are you completely clueless about ROI? Don’t feel too badly, a lot of people have no idea what ROI is. This fantastic video by Erik Qualman is a great place to start. 

So, essentially, ROI is an acronym for Return on Investment. When you talk about ROI and social media, the idea is that your investment in social media should show a gain in revenue/business. Jacquie McCarnen offered some ways to measure ROI in her blog back in January. Also, check out this blog by Nichole Kelly about some things to keep in mind as you begin to track your ROI.

Ultimately, whether you have a small business or a large corporation, it is only a matter of time before someone is going to ask you about the ROI of your social media. Certainly, accountability is important in any advertising campaign.  However, it is important to remember that while social media will drive business in the door, its main purpose is to engage your customers and clients. This engagement will keep your customers coming back. As Mr. Qualman’s intern points out a strong social media presence may determine whether you are still in business in five years and that could be the most important ROI.