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.
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:
- 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.
- 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?
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.
Have you ever wondered, “How to?”, or “How to do I?” Well many people, everyday, come across these questions. These questions bothered both Jack Herrick and Josh Hannah, the two top guys over at eHow, so much that they decided to do something about it. They came up with the idea to create a website that was, “The World’s Collaborative How To Manual,” They called their website WikiHow. Since the launch of the domain www.wikihow.com in 2006, this idea has just taken off; boasting a collection of over 119,725 “How To articles” and growing. There are some great aspects to this site: anyone can post an article, anyone can edit any article, and anyone can access any article for free! There are featured articles, and there are categories for the articles to make finding an article a little easier. If you can’t find the article you want, send a request for an article and anyone can answer your request. The best part of this site, in my opinion, is it also allows business to market themselves through the“How To Manuals.”
At www.wikihow.com, businesses are able to create either a how to guide, a written tutorial for the services provided by the business, or a “How to Hire” a certain firm. Did I mention that this type of medium is a free way to market your business? Yes, free! The website allows people that have problems to look for an answer and it allows your business to post the solution. Wikihow also has a citation and sources area to show the credibility of the author and article. This is where you can link back to your business’s website, creating possible new clients.
The service areas that are utilizing this social medium are the accounting, tax, law, and investment services. These firms put out articles that tell you how to hire a certain firm, the services provided by the firm, and some quick tips to solving easy problems that people may come across when dealing in law,tax, accounting, or investment areas. Many firms tell readers to look for certain skills when hiring a firm. This is where your firm can tell the reader to look for skills that your business has mastered. Here are some examples of articles posted by a law firm, a tax firm, and a personal investment firm utilizing Wikihow. The law firm submitted a “How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer.” The personal finance firm posted a, “How to Pay Taxes on Freelance Work.” Finally the tax firm wrote a, “How to File 831B Taxes.”
The article, the law firm submitted, “How to Choose a Criminal Lawyer,” introduces the benefits of hiring a lawyer. Then body of the article covers what to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer, why you should look for certain experiences, what steps are required to when hiring a lawyer, and who and what to avoid when making your selection. Finally in the sources and citation area, to show the creditability of the article, the law firm Gurovich, Berk, and Associates linked to their website. By posting on WikiHow this law firm gained possible new clients because, the people that are searching for that article most likely are looking for an attorney. Secondly, the firm gained a way to cut out competition by saying who to avoid. Finally the law firm has better chance at picking up a client because the person who read the article can see the free advice, and creditability of the firm.
The next article by the personal investment firm, “How to Pay Taxes on Freelance Work,” is another route that businesses can take. This firm decided to give out a small piece of free advice on personal finance hoping others will see this advice, and want more. If the reader wanted more the link to their site was right in the sources and citations area. By posting this article this firm, like the law firm, gain possible clients that had an interest in services they offer.
Finally, the tax firm followed a similar format as the investment firm, they gave information on how file certain types taxes. The difference was the article had a feeling of uncertainty, that if this type of tax is not filed properly there can be serious implications. The article was hinting at if you become lost get help. That help was at the bottom in the form of a link to a tax service website.
Wikihow is a great way attract to create new potential clients to your web page. Its the perfect meeting area, people with a problems trying to find a solution, and people with answers trying to offer help. There so many way different way to grab the attention of a new client by posting an article, so be creative. If you have a service business you need an article on WikiHow, let the world know how your business can can help them.
If you own or are a part of a small business, you know the many challenges that face you on a daily basis. I’ll venture to say that marketing is a big one. Knowing the who, what, why, when, where, and how of marketing for your business is a crucial factor in seeing your business succeed. Due to the small budgets of many small businesses, marketing is often seen as a “backseat” concern. However, with new social media networks, marketing is now easy, cheap, and can even be fun! Here are 4 steps to consider when utilizing social media for small businesses:
1. Don’t overextend yourself:
Small businesses have a tendency to overextend themselves, and try to do everything at once, in order to gain a market presence. This can often have adverse effects. By setting small goals for your business, you can gradually integrate social media marketing into your daily routine.
However, this rule also applies to social networking. By first identifying your target audience, you can then proceed to try to identify which social network(s) your audience utilizes most. By doing this, it saves you from having to create profiles on the dozens of social networks online and lets you focus on a select few.
2. Engage your audience, don’t try to sell to them:
Social media is interactive, hence the “social” part. This means that the traditional “one-way street” means of advertising are no longer effective. Businesses using social media need to engage their customers, and make them feel as if they are a crucial part to the business. Pushing sales messages and countless ads will cause you to lose customers. Audiences want to be able to input their opinions, remarks, and ideas, and then see those ideas put to use.
Integrating consumer input into the marketing strategy of your small business is a crucial element to your future success.
3. Balance your time, as well as your money:
While social media itself is free, the costs associated with it can be quite high. Deciding whether to handle social media promotions yourself, hiring a media director, or outsourcing your social media needs can have a big influence in the direction of your business. By handling social media yourself, you can save money in the short term, but in the long-term, you run the risk of losing time spent on other projects, which results in a loss of revenue. However, by hiring a person or outsourcing your social media, you can focus on things that need attention, while leaving your social media networking to individuals or firms that specialize in just that. This method saves both time, in the short term and long term, as well as money in the long term.
4. Make your business fun and interactive, not just a brand with a logo:
This is not so much an issue for small businesses as it is in the corporate sector. Social networking opens up the possibility for transparency much more than traditional media. Consumers want to feel connected to the business, as they would a person. This is possible by engaging them. By removing the stiff, emotionless business image, you can add personality your business. This can be done by asking questions, creating surveys or polls that people can vote on, encouraging their input, creating special promotions or specials for those using social media, such as 10% off a product or service for “Checking In” on Foursquare. All of these ideas foster an environment of mutual engagement.
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.
Posted by Pamela
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.
We know that you know what social media is and how it works but do you know how it can work for you? Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to ‘do’ social media. Some unfamiliar with the ins and out of social networking can make mistakes that can drive customers away. Here are a few of the worst gaffs that we’ve seen.
- Overselling your company. No one wants to be bombard with ads every five-seconds, it will drive business away. Remember that the point of social media is to interact with your customers.
- Repetition. Repeating yourself on the company blog or in a tweet potentially alienates current and future followers. If you wouldn’t do it in conversation, why would you do it on the Web? If you have different social networks synced such as Facebook and Twitter make sure it’s not resulting in embarrassing redundancies. Use the features that each network has such as Twitter hashtags.
- Everybody else is doing it. You can’t just join social networks because they’re there. You need a clear idea of how they further your company’s marketing or customer service strategy. When you’re starting your social media marketing efforts you will get frustrated, it takes time so avoid the unnecessary frustration and come see us.
Posted by Pamela
CBS News featured a story today about Luke’s Lobster, a small business in the East Village of NYC that was able to grow through the recession by only using social media to advertise. The main social media website that Luke used was FourSquare. We keep saying it here at Seidel Media, but we’ll say it again. Competitive businesses don’t just rely on traditional advertising…not if they want to stay competitive. You HAVE to engage in all forms of social media in order to reach your potential customers and keep your best customers coming back.
Not all businesses will have the cojones to just do social media advertising like Luke’s Lobster but it has to be part of your media plan. Luke’s is a great example of how small local businesses can make a big impact with a small advertising budget.