Author Archives: Interns of Seidel Media

A New Social Network is Chiming In this Week

What do you get when you mix Twitter-like sharing with the detailed blogging similar to Reddit? You guessed it- a new social media network! Chime.in, Ubermedia’s take on a social network, debuted to the public on 10/18/2011. While the addition of “yet another social network” may have you rolling your eyes, Chime.in might be worth taking a look at.

Chime.in has a newsfeed, pages, and a system that allows users to follow other users. On this new social network, users can write short posts up to 4,000 characters. Chime.in lets users share content via “chimes” (Think facebook status + blog post).

A chime display will show a headline, the first few sentences of the post, multimedia such as a picture or video, interest tags, and options for liking, sharing and commenting. The chimes have a threaded style comment section that allows users to vote comments up or down so the most popular comments show on top.

One of the biggest selling points for Chime.in is the amount of control that users have over their pages, including the types of sponsors or advertising. Users can choose to include their own adds on their page and keep 100% of the profits, or they can elect to have Ubermedia sell the adds on their page and share the revenue 50-50.

With the online world already saturated with social networks, Ubermedia has their work cut out for them if they want to turn Chime.in into a top social network. However, Ubermedia CEO Bill Gross is confidant that Chime.in’s “interest network” focus and it’s offer to let users keep advertising revenue will make it a big success with users and businesses alike. Chime.in is definitely a network to keep your eye on as it may be a  valuable asset to your business’ social media marketing strategy.

Developing an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social Media can be a little daunting for any small business that doesn’t know where to start. Before jumping into the deep end, you should sit down and develop a detailed marketing strategy that is tailored to your business’ needs. Below are a few helpful steps to get you started.
1. Choose A Platform: The first step in any social media marketing plan is to choose the platform or platforms you are going to use. There are hundreds of social media sites,  so how do you choose which ones to use? To begin, do a little research. You want to select platforms that target your intended audience as well as allow you the ability to perform any desired functions (such as “like” buttons, check-ins, etc.). Check out this great infographic on Mashable that compares how the top five platforms stack up against each other.
2. Connect:After you have chosen your desired platform(s) you want to start connecting. Begin by creating your pages and then connecting with your friends, family, and business colleagues to expose your business to their network of friends. Also try searching out people and other business that are involved in your market and then like or follow them to expand your network. Remember to be patient- most likely your pages won’t explode overnight. With time, engaging content, and good consumer interaction, your presence will grow.

3. Create & Share Content: Now that you have decided what platforms are best for you business, created your pages, and started networking, you want to develop content to share with your audience. There’s no use in being present on social media platforms if your content is boring! Your target audience is likely to stop reading and interacting with your business if your content is not engaging. Try discussing interesting or funny topics or any promotions your business has going on. Essentially, have fun with it! Here are a few great Dos and Don’ts for Social Media Sharing.

4. Engage: If someone has taken the time to comment, like, retweet, etc. any of your posts, then take the time to do the same. Taking a look at the five most engaging brands on Facebook can help give your some ideas on how to best interact with your audience.

For more detailed information on how to create an effective social media marketing plan, check out: 5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses.

How Different Generations Use Social Media

A crucial component to any type of social media advertising is knowing the target audience. In order to successfully promote your product, you must be aware of who you are gearing the advertising towards (i.e. age, gender, etc.), what social media platforms your audience is most likely to use, and what time of day they are most active on those platforms.

MBA Online recently posted an interesting infographic that details the types of social media that several generations use throughout the day. The information from the infographic shown below can help you tailor your social media advertising so that you receive the greatest exposure to your targeted audience.

Should You Have Multiple Company Bloggers?

This is a question every growing small business should ask itself. When just starting out, it is often more cost effective and simpler to write the blog yourself, or someone else within the organization. However, as your business grows, so do your responsibilities, as well as your profit intake. With these increased responsibilities, you now have less time and energy to focus on and put effort into social media updates. With your increased profits, you now may have the resources to hire a full time social media/online coordinator. However, before you do anything, it is very important to develop a blogging strategy before taking your company’s blog online.  The following takes a look at the multiple advantages and disadvantages of both multiple and single bloggers.

The Multiple Blogger Strategy

Advantages:

  • This is the most common approach because it fits with most traditional organizational structures, so it is the most tried and true method
  • This strategy can also illuminate the many different voices and perspectives within your company (such as our wonderfully talented intern team here at Seidel Media!)
  • Having multiple bloggers can also distribute the workload, which then ensures a consistent and quality flow of content.
Disadvantages:
  • When you first start a blog, you ask who will make a commitment to blog and you will have a dozen or so people who raise their hands. However, when it actually comes down to it, you will have maybe about 3 or 4 (depending on your business’s size) who actually end up handling all of the blogging.
  • Managing many moving parts and content can be very complex and confusing.
  • Being chained to a schedule can make you inherently inflexible and responsive to external opportunities.
  • Rarely has a blog with mutliple bloggers been able to establish a real sense of community.
The Single Blogger Strategy
Advantages:
  • If you have a company executive who is a natural communicator and voice of authority, it may represent a unique opportunity to differentiate your brand/service. What customer wouldn’t love getting first hand knowledge and insight from a well-known executive?
  • If your goal is to humanize and personalize your business and create customer dialogue, your best bet is to have a dedicated company blogger. People want to connect and converse with a real person. It is difficult to ask a question or comment when the author is not even identified.
  • It is easier for a single person to develop a blogging voice and competency than an entire team.
  • Having a single point of responsibility is the most flexible and responsive situation that takes advantage of the rapid and real-time nature of the social web. It also ensures that the job is going to get done.
Disadvantages:
  • Remember your parents telling you “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”? Well the same thing applies to blogging. What happens if your blogger gets fired, quits, or is out for a month with a terrible sickness? What will happen to your blog?
  • Funding a dedicated blogger can be an unnecessary cost expenditure for many small businesses.
  • It may limit the scope and variety of the content you deliver.
Hybrid Approaches
  • Multiple, single bloggers- IBM has over 50 blogs featuring individual well-known scientists and engineers. It features the best of both worlds since it features multiple voices while also creating emotional bonds with individuals.
  • Blogs segmented by market- An emerging effective practice is to have multiple company blogs aimed at different demographics. These may use a combination of individuals or teams depending on the market.
  • Turn the blog over to stakeholders- Patagonia, Starbucks, and Fiskars infamously uses their customers as their bloggers. They can create compelling content, external validation for your brand message, and an excellent opportunity for engagement.
So, as you can see from the points listed above, there are many valid approaches to blogging efforts for your small business. Taking the time to assess which approach is right for your business can be a determining factor between success or death for  your social media presence.

Will the new Facebook updates and layout affect the way your small business handles advertising?

Starting within the next week, administrators and owners of Fan pages will receive a special announcement in their Weekly Fan Page Update. This announcement will contain information about the inclusion and introduction of Fan page features. Although many people, including businesses, are hesitant about change, this change should be largely beneficial to small businesses.

According to a Facebook announcement, the pages are getting an updated layout and several new features to help you engage with your fans. The following is an example of what you will be seeing in weeks and months to come:

  • Notifications when fans interact with your page or posts
  • A place to showcase photos along the top of your page
  • A news feed for your page
  • The ability to Like and post on other pages as your page.

Facebook is offering two options: try the new page format out as a “Developer” in a trial format, or you can wait until the new changes are fully released, which is expected to happen on or near March 10th, 2012.  A word to the wise, however: once you elect to make the change, you cannot go back. So if you are short on time for learning the new layout, my advice would be to just wait until the changes are formally introduced.

Once you do make the change, there are a number of obvious differences you will notice.

The first obvious departure from the current Fan pages is a change to the Account menu. It used to say “Manage Pages” whereas the current format says “Use Facebook As Page.” You can then select the page and you will notice a Newsfeed, just as you would on your usual profile page.

At the top of the page, you will see images, and below that is the Newsfeed. This will display posts from those who are most active and interactive on your page- just like your profile page. The new page enables you to post, like and engage directly from your business page. This could only be done from your profile page before.

What will this mean for small business?

One of the main things this means for small business is that a business page will be able to expand and engage with a wider network of people without having to utilize a personal profile. The privacy concerns, and fear of sharing personal information with clients and consumer, associates or partners, is a troubling thought for many people. Without sharing your personal profile it was difficult to broaden your network.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

  1. With every Facebook update, your privacy settings automatically change, necessitating you to manually change them. If you want to keep your profile private and think you can direct people to your page, then you will have to double check these settings and make sure everything is locked because part of our human nature is to be nosy.
  2. Although you will have the ability to engage people directly from the page, people still want to know the “face behind the mask” per se. So take some time to reflect on the personality you want to portray, and stick with that for the duration of your page. If you start with a serious demeanor, maintain that at all times, because people will become confused if you are serious one minute, and humorous the next. Integrate this personality into your posts, comments, and likes.

So, now that we have analyzed what the new Facebook Pages will entail, what do you think the affect will be on your small business?

Social Networking Overload: Which Social Network’s Could Help Your Business Grow the Most?

With so many social networks online, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed trying to determine which site to update with what, or whether to create an account on a lesser-known or new site, such as Google+ or Tumblr? Check out our summary below to help you determine which site(s) would be the most beneficial to your business.

  • Facebook is good for both photo and text postings. Also it has the largest user base, therefore the largest potential target base.
  • Twitter, on the other hand, is more for text postings, although you can still post images, however users have to click on a link to see the image. Also, the 140-character limit makes advertising a bit tedious. For businesses that can get away with microblogging without appearing annoying, Twitter was created with you in mind.
  • Google+ is a combination of these two, although it is slightly more and slightly less than both. You can post both images and text, however, the extensive privacy controls sometimes create confusing situations as far as commenting on posts or images. This is especially true on the Google+iPhone/iPad app. Also, since Google+ is still the beta stage, and therefore remains an “invitation only” social network, potential users have a very high susceptibility to being turned off. Also, businesses have been advised to wait to start pages when Google+ rolls out the business pages.
  • Tumblr is a relatively new microblogging site, created in 2007, with a cross-platform format. The ability and easiness to post images, video, text, audio, quotes, as well as hosting your own blog, let’s a multitude of diverse users utilize the site in different ways. With a user retention rate of 85%, it is increasingly being seen as an alternative to Twitter, which only holds a 40% user retention rate.
  • MySpace is an exception in its own right. One of the first social networks to go online, the company that started as a social networking site in 2003 is now almost defunct in that sense, and is instead one of the foremost destinations for social entertainment, such as bands, musicians, actors, etc. that are just starting out. After being overtaken by Facebook in 2009, MySpace is down to just 400 employees, pushing it into the backseat of social media.
  • LinkedIn is a professional networking site, allowing professionals and business to network with each other. Colleagues or friends can write a letter of recommendation on your profile, which is then visible to anyone who views your profile. With more than 120 million users as of March 2011, this network spans across 200 countries and is available in a multitude of languages. Users can post their resume’s on their profile, which can then be downloaded at the click of a button in Word, online, or PDF format.
  • YouTube is a video-sharing site, that was created in early 2005 by three former employees of PayPal. YouTube allows users to record, upload, and share videos with both users and non-users alike. Videos such as TV clips, movie clips and trailers, music videos, video blogs, etc. have transformed the way we interact with each other and the world around us.
  • Foursquare is a very new location-based social networking site. It is one of the only social networks that is exclusively used on GPS-enabled mobile phones. When users “check-in” a list of nearby stores, restaurants, and other venues appears, allowing users to explore the area around them. This application is also an excellent way for small businesses to advertise for free. By offering tips, specials, and other content, users and businesses can interact with each other on an almost personal basis.
Speaking of the iPhone/iPad app, this another consideration to take into account. Does the social network you are considering have a smartphone app, and if so, is it available on a wide variety of softwares? Businesses utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Fourquare, and Youtube still have the biggest advantage to reach their customer base via smartphone apps, especially since society in general is increasingly mobile and continues to transition to smartphones. With the above information about some of the most popular social networks, you should now be able to make an accurate assessment as to which social networks would most benefit your business.

Proper Twitter Etiquette Every Small Business Should Know

The concept of Twitter etiquette (humorously known as Twitiquette) can be seen as an oxymoron of sorts. Twitter was developed with the purpose of being a very open, non traditional social networking site. However, as with anything, there are a set of unwritten rules which users would be wise to adhere to. Small business owners utilizing Twitter need also to pay attention, as these guidelines will help prevent inundating your followers with too much information, and saturating them to the point of irritation. Businesses on Twitter should follow these etiquette tips:

1. Identify Who is Tweeting: If this is your business’ official Twitter account, remember that it is different than your own personal Twitter account. The tone is different, the content is different, even the people you follow is different. Before you begin tweeting, decide amongst your business what sort of tone you want to portray, and then stick with it. If you decide to have a more serious tone, for example, don’t all of a sudden start posting humorous jokes or videos, just because you personally think it is funny. Also, foster trust with your community by being transparent and honest. Try to specify one particular person who does a majority of the tweeting. If you specify who is doing the tweeting, you will build a stronger relationship with this following you. Social media was developed for just that: socializing. Regardless if your Twitter is serious or funny, do your best to add a little humanity to it, and let your audience know that you are not a Twitter robot, or Tweetbot (see, with the humor thing).

2. Listen First: Twitter can be a powerful tool for identifying customer concerns or fostering dialogue. Using the Twitter Search tool can help you quickly identify what people are saying about your company; also, you may be able to do this via hashtags (the infamous “#” symbol) which allows pretty much anything to become a trending topic if it is tweeted enough. For businesses, having a Twitter client like TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop would be a better idea than just relying on the web version of Twitter. These desktop (and mobile as well) applications allow you to view multiple columns at once, and manage and update multiple Twitter accounts at once. This allows you to continually monitor the buzz about your organization. If you find any concerns, or things you like for that matter, feel free to join the conversation!

3. Provide Value Not Just Promotion: Why should someone follow you or your business? People get enough promotion in their daily lives; give them something of value to focus on and remember. Help others out without expecting something in return. Share your knowledge, both from your own company and also from other sources. Be sure not to link EVERYTHING back to your own website. Many users, Twitter administrators included, will see this as spam, and either report your post or unfollow you all together.

4. Pay It Forward: Retweeting (RT) means taking a Twitter post from someone else and forwarding (reposting) it to your followers. If you find a good tip or information, retweet it to your followers. This shows you are in touch with your market and willing to give credit to others. When tweeting yourself, it is not considered good etiquette to ask for retweets. If your information is valuable enough, this will happen naturally, and will not cheapen your post by asking others to repost it.

Promoting Your Facebook Fan Page

Facebook fan page can be one of your business’s most valuable sources for promotion and information.  However, unlike the majority of big-name companies, most small businesses do not have a built-in audience.  So, how do you educate your fan base on how to find you on Facebook?  Here are a few easy ways to promote your page:

1.  Make yourself memorable

Customize your fan page URL.  By going to http://facebook.com/username you can customize your link to make it short and memorable for your fans.

2. Get free publicity 

Put your fan page URL in our email signature.  As a small business you are always using email and each email you send can now be a way for someone new to find out about your fan page!

3.  Make yourself easy to Like

Many people just don’t know you even have a fan page.  By simply putting the URL on your website, all of its visitors will now see that your  fan page exists.  You can also add a Like Box to your website which will show your readers how many of their friends “like” your page as well.  Just make sure you set the options to include face pile.

4.  Connect offline

Put your fan page URL on your business cards.  Even though business cards are offline, you can still let people you meet in real life know about your fan page.  I mean come on, everyone has a Facebook!

5.  Connect with your Facebook stalkers

You know that basic information section on your personal page that you never update?  Well, you’d be surprised how many people actually check that part of your profile.  In the About You section put the link to your company fan page.  Likewise, recruit everyone in your organization to do the same!

6.  Tweet away

If you have a Twitter ask those followers to join your fan page.  “Wanting more conversation than 140 characters will allow? Join us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/myawesomepage.”  You can also put your fan page URL on your twitter profile background.  Plus, now you can even connect your Twitter and Facebook.  This way when you update your status on Facebook it will automatically go to your Twitter and vise versa.

7.  Ask for help

If you tag other, well-known fan pages in your updates their fans might see your page and become a fan.  Also, ask all of your current fans to post a link to your fan page on their personal profile.  As long as you don’t ask often, people will usually like to help out. Power in numbers!

8.  Leave an impression

Whether you use YouTube videos or powerpoint slides to market or present, you can put your fan page URL at the end of the video or presentation as an easy way to connect and remind people about your page.

For more tips on how to spread the word about your Facebook page click here

Recovering From Social Media Disaster

There’s a ton of excellent information available on how to avoid a social media slip-up, but accidents are inevitable. Nowadays, people are managing multiple professional and personal accounts on multiple platforms, and its way to easy to mix up all those accounts. So, what do you do in the event you post something personal on a professional account? Well, the good news is that there have been several social media PR disasters in which the companies were able to turn the situation into something good. From them we have learned a few tips to help you bounce back from your social media catastrophe.

Social media slip ups can do serious damage to your brand. These errors can range from the Inappropriate opinion or insensitive comment to vulgar language. The best way to recover from these types of accidents are to be quick, be honest and humble, and try not to take yourself too seriously.

Be Quick: Information can spread like wildfire on social media sites, so it’s imperative to address any mistakes ASAP. Stay an active participant in conversations on your social media accounts, that way you can quickly catch any comment that may be offensive.

Be Honest & Humble: Sometimes it’s hard to own up to our mistakes. But rather than ignore, deny, or defend any offensive comment posted on your business’s social media account, you should quickly own up to your mistake and show your followers that someone behind the brand is trying to correct the situation. One of the best ways to recover from a social media PR disaster is to create a good name for your brand by doing well by your customers over a long period of time. That way, if something happens, your customers know that it’s not really you.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously: Mistakes happen! You don’t want to overreact or blow the situation up by making a bigger deal of the mistake. A really great example of a company taking an accidental tweet in stride is the Red Cross. In February, the Red Cross tweeted:

They quickly responded “the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” The Red Cross was able to effectively recover from the slip by acknowledging the mistake, apologizing, and even making a little joke out of the situation. It also doesn’t hurt that they were able to sneak in a little tip about driving safely.

The important thing is to listen to your audience for both positive and negative feedback. It is much easier to deal with an errant post if you how you how it has offended your audience. That, and taking accountability if you have legitimately offended part of your audience.

How Consumers Interact With Brands on Facebook and What That Means for Your Business

In today’s technologically savvy culture, we all know that social media is an essential part of promoting your business. Important questions you should consider when managing your social media accounts are: how are consumers most likely to interact with your business on Facebook? And how does that type of interaction effect how you should manage your social media? A recent study conducted by Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey analyzed the behavior of almost 1,500 consumers over the age of 18 to figure out how consumers interact with businesses on Facebook.

Here is the information we found most important in the study. Consumer interaction on Facebook is mostly a passive act, 77% of consumers primarily interact with businesses via reading their posts or status updates only. Although consumers may not be taking the time to “like” or comment on your posts, posting is still an extremely valuable way to spread the word about your product or service.  The top two reasons that motivated consumers to “like” or become a fan of a business on Facebook are because they are a consumer (58%) or because they were interested in receiving discounts or information about promotions. Some of the more promising statistics for businesses in the study were:

    • 51% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan of the business on Facebook
    • 76% of consumers have never “unliked” a brand
    • 56% of consumers are more likely to recommend the business to a friend if they area a fan of the business on Facebook

Essentially, for businesses looking to make a splash on Facebook, try to share compelling content, don’t overwhelm your consumers with too frequent posts, and maybe add a little incentive for consumers. For a few tips on how to optimize your news feed click here.