Blog Archives

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.

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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.

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.

 

Getting Noticed With Facebook NFO

NFO?  At first it may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but knowing its secrets can help your Facebook content stand out among the 30 billion pieces of information shared monthly.  As much as 90% of your Facebook fans don’t come back to your page once they become a fan!  They actually visit your page usually after reading your content in their own news feed.  So how can you get your updates onto as many news feeds as possible?  Facebook News Feed Optimization (NFO) is the answer.  Facebook uses a specific formula to decide what shows up on a user’s home page.  Based on which pages you interact most with, the actions you take on these pages, and what posts are most recent, Facebook produces a home page specific to you.

Here are some of the best ways to get your content seen and interacted with more:

1.  As the saying goes, “Less is more.”

Everyone has that Facebook friend that you believe never leaves their computer because they post every half hour.  Now with the new privacy settings, you can actually unlike a page or hide posts from particular people.  The #1 reason people do this is to avoid those annoying posts.  You definitely don’t want to be “unliked” because you are considered a nuisance, so post only 2-5 times a day to stay in good graces.

2.  As the saying goes, “Keep it short and sweet.”

That same Facebook friend that posts every half hour usually posts extremely long statuses too.  By now you probably don’t even bother reading them!  Studies show that keeping your status 80 characters or less will lead to more engagement from users.  So keep it simple!

3.  As the saying goes, “Keep things interesting.”

Why do people read gossip magazines?  I’m sure it’s not for the meaningful articles!  The photos are what attract readers to buy these magazines.  For your Facebook posts keep the content interesting.  When a user’s news feed shows up the first thing that will grab their attention is photos, videos, links, and even questions that spark conversation.  Just plain words might get over looked if there are other interesting posts above or below it.

4.  As the saying goes, “There is always an exception to the rule.”

Usually when posting a link on other social networking sites, like twitter, you should stick to short links.  However, on Facebook you will actually get 3 times the engagement if you use full links.

5.  As the saying goes, “Time is of the essence.”

Apparently a lot of people sit on Facebook at work bored to tears.  As a result, the website receives high traffic from about 10am Eastern to 4pm Eastern.  However, there are those who don’t have the opportunity to Facebook at work, so evenings are a good time too!  By posting during one of these high traffic times you will receive more exposure and interaction from fans.

6.  As the saying goes, “TGIF!”

Facebook actually has a happiness index, and to no surprise it spikes about 10% on Fridays.  Thursdays and Fridays have about an 18% higher engagement rate than other days in the week.  So posting on those days will also lead to more exposure and interaction from all those “happy it’s the weekend” followers.

7.  As the saying goes, “Be spontaneous.”

Facebook tends to give a little bit more visibility to those that post manually instead of through a third-party app or automated system.  So by taking just a little bit of time out and posting yourself, your posts will sound more personable, and help you reach more fans at the same time.

So, keep it simple, short, and interesting, take advantage of those happy days and times, and be yourself!  And for more information on how to stand out click here.

4 Steps for Small Businesses and Social Media

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.

Example: If you are a law firm or other professional association, you would most likely target users using LinkedIn. If you are a retail store, you would most likely use Facebook or Twitter.

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.

For more great tips on growing your small business via social media, check out the articles listed here and here.