If you ask any business owner whether or not they think they should be monitoring social media, odds are that you’ll get a resounding yes. However, after that, the road to success gets a much more complicated. While companies agree that observing conversations on social media channels is important, they don’t really know what information they should be looking for.
In most cases, social media monitoring is used to identify potential crises – a useful application for sure, but not the only way to use the information gathered through social media listening. In fact, social media monitoring can help a company to better understand the needs of their customers, industry trends, and keep tabs on the competition. Here’s how:
Find Your Target Audience
Monitoring social media conversations can help your business identify the places your potential customers can be found. Taking note of what consumers are talking about also helps your company to determine what they want and design your marketing strategy accordingly.
This step takes a little more research, but is well worth the effort. Influencers aren’t necessarily the users in your network with the largest amount of followers; instead, their followers are highly engaged. Influencers are often considered experts in their field, and regularly post updates that get re-tweeted by their fans. Once you’ve identified relevant influencers, you’ll want to create an engagement strategy to build a relationship with them on behalf of your business.
Don’t wait for customers to come to you. If you notice that a customer is having difficulty with your product or service, do your best to resolve that issue. Keep an eye out for any change in sentiment – positive and negative – and track your competition. After all, a customer’s negative review about your competition is potentially a new lead for your business.
Social media monitoring is an ongoing process – and one that changes with the evolving needs of the customer and shifting social media landscape. Companies that really use social media listening to their advantage are always adapting their strategy to reflect relevant changes in the space.
Has your company been monitoring social media? Share your tips in the comments!
Pinterest is hot. The social networking site’s popularity has exploded in the last few months, as Pinterest reached 10 million active users in the U.S. faster than any other independent website in history. From contests to collaborative pin boards, there are plenty of ways businesses can get involved in this rapidly growing social network – and chances are you should. Pinterest is responsible for more website referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest allows users to browse, organize and share images that they find interesting, inspiring, or both. Images that have been uploaded or shared on the social network become known as ‘Pins’ which other users can add to their own customized or themed boards.
What’s the point?
It’s awesome! Trust me, it’s incredibly addicting to just browse the website and pin cool stuff all day. (I now credit Pinterest for all of my meals and decorating ideas.) However, you can also use it to promote your business – just don’t be too obvious with your sales pitch. Use images and video to show customers how your product or service works, and how to integrate it into their everyday lives.
It’s not just for B2C Marketing
Sure, Pinterest’s focus is on visual content, but B2B’s tend to have more image-worthy info than they think. Share photos from your latest company social to give people an idea of your corporate culture. Or, publish industry-related infographics, data charts, or e-book covers. In fact, HubSpot has some great tips for B2B’s looking to include Pinterest in their social media strategy.
- Have a vision for your boards and commit to making them a valuable resource for your industry.
- Make each pin a traffic resource for your website by adding a link back to the original image on your site for every pin you create.
- Don’t be afraid to enhance your boards by using them to promote pins from other users.
- Promote your account on other social networks.
Have you started using Pinterest for your business? Share your tips in the comments below.
From opening kick off fans will be glued to the television this Sunday as Super Bowl XLVI decides this year’s best team. As a social media marketer, this type of unbridled energy and anticipation reminds me of the moment just before launching a big campaign. There’s nothing more exciting than watching those first real-time stats appear in analytics – except maybe watching Tom Brady lead his team to victory.
Actually, social media marketers can learn a lot from football, and Super Bowl 2012 is no exception.
Have a Game Plan
No matter which team you’re cheering for, Giants and Patriots fans can agree that both teams will walk into Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday incredibly prepared. Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by an average of 111 million viewers, making it the most watched program in American television history. While that number is impressive, it’s only a fraction of the people who make up the user base of popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Don’t let your brand take the stage without a plan! Like the Super Bowl, success in social media takes a lot of strategy, strong execution and a little bit of luck. Make sure you’ve studied the game tapes, identified strengths and weaknesses, and have a well thought out plan of attack.
Trust your Quarterback
Tom Brady and Eli Manning are undoubtedly at the centre of the game plan for their respective teams. Both are among the top 10 NFL quarterbacks for 2011, and both are former Super Bowl winners. They know how to execute on behalf of their organization, have the strength of their team behind them, and the power to audible at the line of scrimmage. In order to succeed, your Community Manager needs the same. After all, they’re quarterbacking your social media strategy.
Don’t Drop the Ball on Special Teams
They may not be on the field as often as the offense or defence, but what happens on special teams has the potential to be a game changer. (I’m lookin’ at you Kyle Williams.) If you work at a large organization, it’s likely that at any given point in your social media efforts situations will arise that require the expertise and involvement of other departments. The goal is to respond quickly and efficiently. If you fumble, it could damage your reputation. Or worse, you could find yourself having to cheer for the New York Giants.
Contain on Defence
A good defence rarely gives up a big play. If they do, it could cost them the game. Sure, mistakes happen on the field, but those errors can potentially lead to disaster. Of course, even the best companies slip up on occasion. If you do, it’s important to tackle the issue before it can sprint down the sidelines into the end zone. Offer a sincere apology and do your best to take the problem offline.
Play as a Team
The winner of Super Bowl XLVI will be the team that makes the least mistakes. In order to do that, each player needs to know their role and be virtually flawless in their execution. The same is true of social media. To really be effective, social media should have the support of everyone in the organization and should involve representatives from different departments. Social media is not just marketing’s responsibility. In fact, the most memorable plays are created when the entire company gets involved.
Sure, small businesses can learn a lot from the social media successes and failures of large, national or international organizations. (American Express and McDonalds’ #McDStories are just two examples.)
But more often than not, businesses get the best results from their social media campaigns when they build an authentic, personal experience that truly connects brand and customer. Therefore, small businesses, which are more likely to have a unique culture, coupled with ability to respond quickly (and without a lot of red tape), have a significant advantage when it comes to social media marketing.
Read below for some tips on how to get started.
Do a little research.
Use free listening tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention to identify the social networks where your customers are hanging out. Searching for your business or brand name, your competitors, or your best performing keywords should give you an indication of where the most chatter is happening. It’s also a good idea to ask customers who visit your store which social networks they use most often.
The goal: Be where your customers are.
Set up and complete your profile.
Now that you’ve discovered where your customers are online, it’s time to join them. When setting up an account on any social network, it’s important to fully complete your profile. This is the time to share what makes you great. Use your social media profiles to tell people who you are, what you do, where to find you, and the best way to get in touch.
The goal: Get found. As search becomes more social, there’s a good chance that your social media profile(s) will show up in search results.
Claim your listings on local review sites.
Review sites like Google Places and Yelp! often appear in the search results. It’s important to actively manage your reputation online, as consumers place a lot of value on peer reviews. Work to resolve any issues with those who have posted negative reviews, and encourage happy customers to share their positive experience with your company. In addition, ensure that your business information is up-to-date, and add new photos or promotions as applicable.
The goal: Get customers.
Listen and engage.
Now that you’re armed with a complete social media profile, actively listen to conversations happening in that space. Whenever there is a mention of your brand, your company, your product or service, a related product or service, or your competitors, you should be ready to respond – and respond quickly. In the social media world, a quick and helpful answer goes a long way, helping to establish your company as the leading authority in your space.
The goal: Lead generation and customer loyalty.
Get involved in the local community.
Connect with others who live and work in your community, and share relevant local events on your profiles. Focusing on building local connections improves the chance that your online interactions will lead to an in-person visit to your bricks-and-mortar location.
The goal: Ensuring that you’re always top of mind.
Integrate your marketing efforts.
Social media is most effective when it works in conjunction with a company’s other marketing efforts. Share your social media profiles on in-store displays, flyers, email newsletters, blogs, newspaper advertisements… you get the idea.
The goal: A successful marketing campaign.
According to the B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are creating and sharing content on behalf of their organization in order to achieve their marketing goals.
While that clearly shows that businesses and marketers are beginning to understand the power of content, the report revealed that their number one challenge continues to be creating the right content. Or, content that really resonates with their prospects and customers. So just how can you discover what kind of content your customers really want?
Leverage your blog and social media profiles to ask your customers about the type of topics or information they’re interested in. If you’re going to use a survey to do this, leave a space where customers can share their own ideas, in addition to choosing from a set list of topics. But don’t stop there. Also ask about how they would like to receive that information and in what format (i.e. video, PDF, newsletter, etc.).
Talk to your sales and/or customer service department
In most organizations it’s the sales and customer service teams that have daily contact with your customers. Talk to them about common customer questions, compliments and complaints. Use that information to write killer blog posts – think lists, how-to guides or quick tips.
After collecting feedback from your audience and your company’s sales and customer service departments, you should have enough information to begin building buyer personas. Essentially, these personas help you to identify different groups of people within your target audience. For your content marketing efforts to be really effective, you’re going to need to create content and messaging that fits each of your buyer personas.
Add analytics to your blog
Start tracking visits and page views so you can easily identify which topics are getting the most interest from readers. It’s also important to pay attention to how long visitors are staying on your site, as this is a strong indicator of how relevant, or engaging your content is to your audience. If your visitors are leaving quickly, it’s a sign that you should probably rethink your current content strategy.
Remember, it’s not all about you
Blogging consistently about your company, your product, or your service isn’t going to get you new customers. But using the tips above, and ultimately focusing on your audience, can lead to increased traffic, engagement, and yes, revenue for your business.
Share the creative ways you use content to reach your customers in the comments below.
Social media can be a great way to market a business, but there are also lots of misconceptions about using social media, and the time it takes to see success. If you’re thinking about using social media at your company, be sure you’re using it for the right reasons. Ask yourself if social media is right for your business and don’t fall victim to these common social media lies:
Social Media is easy.
It takes strategy, time and effort to build a successful social media presence. While anyone can create accounts on social
media websites, it’s another thing entirely to be able to develop a space that engages and inspires your customers. That’s easier said than done.
Social Media is about conversations.
Having conversations with your followers doesn’t increase your reach. Publishing interesting content does. Hubspot’s Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella notes that it’s the quality of your content that’s going to get you noticed, not your winning conversation. Drive people to that content by sharing links on Twitter – tweets that contain links are more likely to get retweeted.
Social media makes it easy for campaigns to go viral.
You’ve made a great video/blog post/contest so naturally people will find it, right? Wrong. For an idea to spread people have to be exposed to the idea. Not only that, but it needs to capture their attention and motivate them to take action. In other words, simply creating something awesome isn’t good enough – it needs to be promoted effectively in order to capture the attention of your audience.
Social Media isn’t measureable.
Think you can’t measure social media? Think again. By pairing analytics tracking with your overall business goals, there are many ways that you can track the success of your campaigns. Altimeter Group has created a great report on the topic. Check out the blogs of Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis for all the details.
Social Media can save your business.
Social media should be part of your business’ overall marketing strategy, not your entire strategy. In fact, social media is more effective when integrated with other marketing campaigns. While social media activities should be discussed during campaign planning sessions, it’s ultimately the strategy itself (not the channel alone) which dictates success.
Any business can create a Facebook page, but it takes a lot more than just being on the social network to run a successful marketing campaign. Too often companies fail to reap the full benefits of their Facebook marketing by falling victim to these common mistakes:
Not Creating a Fan Page
Profile pages are for people, not businesses. Creating a profile page for a business is not only against Facebook’s terms of
service, it also causes you to miss out on some of the best fan page features.
Fan pages can have an unlimited number of followers, and are indexed by the search engines. That means your social media strategy can help you to reach more customers, including ones who may not have otherwise come across your business on Facebook. In fact, once you get more than 25 fans, Facebook allows you to create a custom URL for your business page, which means you’ll get a more memorable web address to share with your customers. Best of all, Facebook gives business page administrators access to Insights (Facebook’s analytics tool) that shows you which of your posts were most popular with your audience, the reach of your content and basic demographic information about visitors to your page.
Not giving fans a reason to ‘Like’ you
It seems almost every business has a Facebook page these days, so why should people ‘like’ your company? It’s not enough just
to ask people to become a fan – you need to tell them why. Do you offer exclusive content or special rewards to people who ‘like’ your Facebook page? Tell ‘em! They’ll be more likely to become your fan and interact with you as you post that great content.
Abandoning the page for long periods of time
Your fans will want to interact with your business on Facebook – so abandoning the page for months, or even a few weeks will seriously diminish the page’s value. Keep the page up to date by posting quality content, answering questions and uploading photos and videos of special events.
Broadcasting vs. Engaging
Constantly talking about your own products without adding additional value is the quickest way to lose fans. Social media should be a two way conversation, so look for ways to keep your fans involved. Ask questions, post a variety of content and focus on providing value.
Not having a content strategy
Taking the time to develop a solid content strategy is one of the best ways that your company can avoid the majority of these Facebook marketing mistakes. Most people become fans of brand or business pages to show their association with a popular brand or company, receive special offers, and stay up to date. Keep these factors in mind as you create your content plan, and put dates and times for each post into your calendar. Not only will you be reminded to update your page, you won’t need to spend time thinking about what to post.
Social media can be a great way to generate new leads, raise awareness or increase revenue for a company. (Ideally it will help your business to do all three.) But successfully implementing a social media strategy takes a lot of time, effort and testing to find out what works for your business, and more importantly, what type of content resonates with your customers.
Before creating social media accounts for your small business, consider the following:
Can you reach prospects and customers using social media?
There are likely a few exceptions here, but odds are the answer to this question is a resounding “YES!” There are now more than 800 million active users on Facebook, and nearly a quarter of all time spent online is dedicated to social media [via Social Media Examiner]. But not everyone is hanging out in the same place. Do a little research to determine which social networking sites your customers are using.
Will social media help you to support your company’s existing marketing initiatives?
While social media can be a great way to promote your business, it shouldn’t be the only way. Use social networking websites to extend the reach of your current campaigns or make them more interactive.
Do you have the resources to create interesting content on a regular basis?
Simply having social media profiles for your business isn’t enough. You need to update those pages on a regular basis (at least once per day) with great content. A social network can be a great place to offer exclusive information, coupons or insight into your business. Remember, social media is social! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and interact with your fans and followers.
What are your goals for your social media profiles?
Before you start using social media for business, think about what you want to achieve. Social media can help your business reach new customers, generate more traffic to your website and increase revenue. It’s also a great source for consumer feedback, testing new offers and improving customer loyalty. The point is, before embarking on a new social media campaign, you need to establish your goals, and create a clear definition for success.
Will you be committed to social media for the long term?
Social media success takes time, planning and creativity. Once you start, you need to continue to update your profile and share interesting content with your fans and followers in order to truly reap the benefits of your hard work. It takes months, not days. But the results can be well worth the effort.