Bethany

Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

26 Promising Social Media Stats for Small Businesses

In General, Strategy on November 15, 2011 at 8:37 am


Is your small business “all in” with social media? New research shows incredible opportunity for small businesses.
Via www.socialmediaexaminer.com

Social Media, Part of Overall Marketing Strategy

In Strategy, Trends on April 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Isn’t amazing how far we’ve come with our perceptions of social media from even 3 years ago?  At first, many companies and individuals hesitated – thinking it might just be a fad.  Now… to read that more than 90 percent of companies plan on increasing their social media budgets throughout 2011…WOW!

With more companies focusing on their online presence – it’s important to remember to keep social media part of your overall marketing strategy.  Audiences still need to ‘experience’ your brand and people in a ‘real,’ in-person way too.  What is your message and voice?  Who do you want to engage with?  What are they interested in? How will you integrate your offline and online marketing efforts?

Here’s a quick snippet from PR.com…

Atlanta, GA, April 20, 2011 –(PR.com)– More than 90 percent of companies will increase their social media marketing budgets in 2011, according to one social media guest expert on the “Commercial Real Estate Show.”

With an estimated 650 million users on Facebook and another 90 million on Twitter, companies are willing to spend more money than ever to reach key audiences through social media. Shama Kabani, CEO of the Marketing Zen Group and author of “The Zen of Social Media,” said companies that are successful with social media are integrating it into their overall marketing strategies.

“Social media is not a stand alone,” Kabani told radio show host Michael Bull. “You don’t just have a Twitter account, you don’t just have a Facebook fan page, it has to be a part of a bigger structure.”

Recruiting College Students via Social Media

In General, Strategy, Trends on April 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

Recruiters know that communicating through social media is like breathing, to the younger generation.  Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Youtube are all being used to promote and engage material.  So why not recruit college students using those sites as tools?

Here are a few suggestions to attract and interact with college students entering into the job market:

1.  Make it Personal – Let the audience know who’s behind the social media account (writing the posts).  You want college students to be able to relate to a PERSON at your company.

2. Keep it Real – Allow other employees at your company to tell why they love working there – through video!

3. Deliver Exclusivity – Show “behind the scenes” of what your company does – give the viewers a taste of what a day in the life of a (list position here) is…if that’s something you’re hiring for or someone they will be working with.  Also – share photos and videos from company gatherings/holiday parties/contests/etc.

4. Add Value – Allow students to tweet questions about your company – make it easy for them to reach someone and get an answer.  Share information about the work environment, mentoring programs, advancement opportunities within the company and how they can impact the workplace right away.

5. Stay Ahead of the Curve – Stay up to date on the latest social media trends.  Think about QR codes and specific apps that your company could utilize/create to help the recruiting process.

Check out Mashable for complete article and more suggestions.

Nonprofits, Five Simple Ways to Integrate Social Media

In General, Strategy on March 20, 2011 at 12:19 am

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing social media with various non-profits, in regards to strategy and other questions.  Most of the time, the objectives are focused on effective online communication and easier/better fundraising.  Once the organization has gotten on board with social media, the next question is…

“How can we integrate social media into our website?”

Well, here are five simple ways to do so:

1. Add social media icons to your home page.
2. Embed widgets for Facebook & Twitter on homepage.
3. Add YouTube videos and/or Flicker photos to content/gallery pages.
4.  Integrate “Connect With Us” on “Thank You” & “Call to Action” Landing Pages
5.  Embed “Recent Posts” from your blog into homepage

For more details, check out NonProfit Tech 2.0.

Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments sections. :)

Search Engines Now Paying Attention to “Likes”

In Facebook, Strategy, Trends on February 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

If you’re part of the 50% of Facebook users, signing in daily – there’s a good chance you’re “liking” some of the content you come across  (videos, updates, pictures, pages, etc.).  And of course we enjoy it when other’s like our content too – as it gives us insight into what our audience is interested in.  Well, Google realizes how powerful and relevant this social information is for search results.

As of a week ago, Google, announced they would start placing a greater emphasis on social results in a search, based on their relevancy.  Same with Microsoft’s Bing.

From “our” business/marketing perspective – this makes sense and we should consider doing the same in our Facebook advertising.  Perhaps, targeting ads based on likes (what the user likes/groups/pages) over interests.

Here’s the article from Marketing Vox:

Microsoft’s Bing has followed Google’s lead last week and tweaked its search algorithm to emphasize social results. Building on a partnership it announced a few months ago with Facebook, it has introduced Liked Results, which promotes links friends have publicly liked or shared via Facebook. Bing is extending Liked Results to annotate any of the URLs returned by its algorithmic search results to all users in the US, it says in a blog post.

Last week Google announced it would start placing greater emphasis on social results in a search, based on their relevancy. The reasons for both search engines’ decision to move in this direction are similar: As Bing explains “this is the first time in human history that people are leaving social traces that machines can read and learn from, and present enhanced online experiences based on those traces. As people spend more time online and integrate their offline and online worlds, they will want their friends’ social activity and their social data to help them in making better decisions.”

Liked Results will pull up any publicly liked or shared search results by a fried below the result. “For example, when I was planning a trip to Napa, I wanted to find a great bed and breakfast for my stay,” Lawrence Kim on Bing’s Social Team writes. “A traditional search result showed me a long list of web links and captions, which would take up some time to parse through individually. Fortunately, several of my friends that have been to Napa in the past have liked Churchill Manor. Using Liked Results, the Bed & Breakfast that my friends have liked gets highlighted with their pictures and names – making it easier for me to quickly refine my search and decide where I should stay.”

Changing SEO Strategies

If that sounds like a brand’s social strategy can be used to boost SEO, that is correct. If that sounds like a brand’s social strategy can be used to boost SEO, that is correct. As one example, Jen Lopez, Community Manager at SEOmoz, tells of how one tweet from an unexpected source drove its page’s ranking and traffic.

Targeting By Likes

Also, as more people incorporate Likes and their equivalents into their online activities, marketers are beginning to target their campaigns accordingly. Decanted Wines, for instance, great success with using psychographic targeting based on likes, company marketing guru Jessica Fialkovich tellsMarketingVOX. “With the increasing number of ‘pages’ that are replacing interests, we are starting to phase out targeting by interest and instead focus on likes/pages that would reach the same group,” she says. According to Fialkovich, since implementing the psychographic targeting, the company has seen an increase of click through rates of 150%, increased fans of 75%, and surprisingly a decrease in click through rate cost by 30%.

Facebook Pages: New Layout, Strategies

In Facebook, Strategy on February 12, 2011 at 6:34 am

Yes, Facebook has done it again …  a new layout!  This time, the change is for Pages (vs. your profile).  And like with any change, it takes a little time to get used to the location of items.  More exciting though, you’ll be happy to hear how you can utilize these changes for your business.  Honestly, I think these are some of the best improvements to the pages! :)

Here we go…this information is from Mashable (one of my favorites) and Facebook’s Guided Tour:

1. Photos: Take ‘Em, But You Can’t Leave ‘Em


When the photos across the top of Facebook profiles first appeared, people were in a panic. Now anyone could tag you in a photograph, and it would automatically show up at the top of your page. You can, however, “X” them out, if and when you notice them. You can also remove your name from photos when tagged by others. On Pages, fans cannot tag or post an image and have it show up at the top. They appear based on images you post to your own Page wall as well as images where you tag your Page.

Be strategic: If photographs are part of what you do, this is a nice showcase. If images aren’t as relevant to what you’re conveying, this can begin to look random and distracting. Upload several key images to your Page’s photo area and remember to keep it pruned in order to present a cohesive and clear visual message.


2. Navigation: Farewell Page Tabs, We Knew You Well


Not to sound the panic alarm, but tabs as we know them are gone. Facebook tries to assure us that this is fine because it is “Just like on people’s profiles,” but that brings us back to the question “Why does a business want their Page to look like a person’s profile?” The reduction in prominence of the tools that helped communicate your company’s calls to action is a blow to the effectiveness of Pages.

Be strategic: One thing that the new navigation forces you to do is to examine what superfluous tabs you used to hide next to your six visible tabs. Now all someone has to do is click the “More” link below the first six “tabs” and see the entire list of links including Discussions, which most Pages hide or remove to avoid diverting comments from the Wall to yet another area that requires community management.


3. Wall Filters: And The Top Posts Are…


Facebook is providing two Wall filters: Showing posts by your page and top posts from everyone. This ostensibly gives people a way to see the most “interesting” stories first. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they see the stories that are most important or relevant to the messages you hope to communicate to the public. If you’re the only one posting updates, this becomes moot. But imagine what will happen to the view for Pages where the fans post very frequently.

Be strategic: For best engagement, you will want to show “Everyone” as the default setting. For more control — which isn’t always advisable if you are looking to provide people with compelling, interactive content — set the default view to just your Page posts.


4. Admin View: Sign-In as a Page on Facebook


You, as the Page or the brand, can now interact with other parts of Facebook. Before, you could only post to other parts of Facebook as yourself, the admin behind the Page. While you still cannot post to people’s personal Facebook profile Walls as a Page, you can post to other Pages as a Page. This can be useful, but also confusing and potentially disastrous.

You have to make sure that before you post to a Page that you are in the proper setting (human or brand). Also, for less scrupulous brands, this is a new opportunity for spam. You may need to be more diligent about checking for posts from your competitors displaying their brand to your fans. You can view most recent and hidden posts while in Admin view

Be strategic: A good use of Page-to-Page Wall postings is when you have multiple Pages for brands you own. Or when you want to do co-promotions with business partners who have Pages. If you manage Pages for multiple partners, you could also do some thoughtful cross-posting, with your clients’ permissions, of course.


5. Settings: Getting in Control


One of best Page changes for brands is that you can now get e-mail notifications when someone posts to your Page or comments on your post. This has been a long time coming and an invaluable feature for helping you monitor your Page activity. You can change your e-mail notification settings for each Page.

In Settings, you can also set the default to how you post –- as yourself or your Page -– and specify which featured pages will appear down the left side of your Page. To choose the pages you want to show up under Favorite Pages, go to “Edit Page” and choose “Featured.” This is similar to choosing your featured friends. You can also feature Page owners or admins if you so choose. This is a big change from the previously hidden identities of admins.

Be strategic: While there will be much debate about whether or not you should post as a brand or as a person, the best practice is to post as yourself. One of the tenets of social media communications is transparency. Posting behind the banner of your brand is fine on your Page, but moving into other spaces as a brand can be invasive and unwelcome.

You can get to your e-mail and posting preferences by going to “Edit Page” and “Your Settings.” If you own multiple Facebook Pages, you can switch over individually or take the plunge and upgrade them all at once, but you’ll still have to go into each admin area to manipulate individual Page settings.

If you have any questions, or would like guidance on making this ‘upgrade’ change – feel free to email or call. :)  It has been neat to see how many of my current client family members have reached out to learn more about the changes & to set up a quick 30 min one-on-one. :)

What Being A Good Friend Looks Like Online

In General, Strategy on January 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

My dad used to always say this one simple phrase:  “You can never communicate enough.”   And of course, as a kid I thought that meant telling my family where I was going to be and what time (and at least 3 times, haha).  Well, now I see how much wisdom that statement has – especially since my life is all about communication strategies and tools (okay, who are we kidding, your life is all about communication too).  :)

How well you communicate with someone (or with yourself – self talk), will determine the quality of your relationships (and your life).  That goes for both your professional and personal relationships.

Now, I’m going to take it a step further… The quality of your relationships offline will influence how well you communicate online.   NEWSFLASH:  The basic “being a good friend” principles that we learned in kindergarten, still work the same online too!

Here are a few tips to improve social media communication & build super relationships online: (via Lena West, xynoMedia)

  • Always be available. Ok, not always, but one of the chief complaints within friendships is when someone is cold, distant or hard to get in touch with. Your readers may feel the same way about your company if it takes weeks to approve and reply to comments. Business owners especially need to make sure they’re on point because a benefit of working with a smaller company is the expectation of high-touch interactions.
  • Think before you speak or write. How many friendships are damaged because one person makes a statement, the other responds, things escalate, and pretty soon the original issue is well overshadowed by the ensuing drama? The same thing can happen with social media. A blog visitor writes a negative comment and someone on your team writes a snarky reply, and the situation escalates. It’s easy to let emotion overtake reason, especially if your team feels like it’s under pressure to “get social media right”. Give your “first responders” permission to take the extra time to reconnect with your company’s brand promise and think before responding. If this is not possible, give them the latitude to reach out to another team member for support. Additionally, a Terms of Use section for your blog or podcast will go a long way in providing guidance for visitors and remove the personal element on how comments are handled.
  • Don’t allow things to fester. In a friendship, what often starts out as a small issue can quickly grow if left unaddressed. The more time that passes, the more likely the other person will fill in your side of the conversation with what they think you’ll say. If your company offers a blog or online community, do your best to address small issues, complaints, etc. in a measured but timely manner.
  • Know the line between friendly and too familiar. Nothing kills a friendship faster than one of the parties attempting to become too familiar too soon. The same is true with social media. While you may have some intellectually stimulating and insightful conversations as you build your relationship with your audience, it’s still important to maintain a degree of professionalism. While you do want your readers to feel good about your brand, they’re still clients and potential clients; not buddies.
  • When you’re at fault, apologize. The best thing for friendships is for all parties to “own their stuff.” If your company falls short in a way that may compromise how your audience interacts with or feels about your brand, the best thing you can do is own it, apologize and spell out a plan of action that decreases the likelihood of the transgression ever happening again. There’s little worse than tossing your reader’s trust aside by sweeping shortcomings under the virtual rug.

One final note:  If you ever do run into a questionable/sticky situation online – ask yourself how you would communicate with the person if they were a dear friend.   :)

Feel free to reach out through email, a phone call, or social media site if you would like to “communicate more.”  :)

 

2010 Social Media Lessons: Business

In General, Q&A, Strategy, Trends on January 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

It’s hard to believe that we’re into 2011 already.  As a business (and individual), it’s valuable to spend some time reflecting on what you’ve learned over the previous year.  In regards to social media, I was thinking about this – and ended up coming across an article from Lyndi Thompson at WebProNews.  She’s done a solid job of summarizing.

9 Thinks Businesses Have Learned About Social Media:

It isn’t free: Social media costs time – a lot of time. If you have someone that is customer focused, understands how to write headlines and reaches out to the right audiences, then you are starting out solid.

Be Creative: Social media isn’t sell media. Be social. Have fun engaging your community, from congratulating them on opening their new business, to commenting on their blog and attending networking events with them.

Have a Team: This isn’t a one person show. Just like customer service everyone needs to be trained and have at least a basic understanding on how to help customers, sell the product as well as assist with customer concerns.

Start with Employees: The people that know how to talk about your brand, company and culture the best are your employees. Treat them as family, acknowledge and appreciate and make them feel as they are an important part of your business. Employees are the first to share with their communities and network their experience with your company and brand.

Listen First: Enough with the megaphone blasting your message to customers and employees. Start by spending some time listening to them instead. Reach out and connect with your customers, employees and fans of your brand and make them feel that they are the center of the conversation.

Customers Turn into Marketers: Customers that feel acknowledged and appreciated are loyal, excited to help and eager to be your brand evangelists, at no charge.

Consistency Matters: Have your pixel pixie help you create a Twitter background that matches your website branding, and a Facebook logo that fits, little things that your graphic deisgner can do to enrich

Connect online then in real life: Find ways to connect offline, have an open house, attend a networking event and then share the experience with your social media communities.

Seek Guidance: Look for someone who understands the tools, language, has experience and passion working with social media to give you an hour or two to give you a tour. Learn about social media management tools, ways to monitor effectiveness, help with content strategy and ways to find your audience.

What else have you learned as a business using social media?  What could Social Buzz Media help you understand better in 2011?  :)

 

Email Marketing 2011, Tips

In General, Strategy on January 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Will social media channels, like Facebook, replace Email?  That’s one of the questions people are curious about.  However, as much as I sometimes get overwhelmed with email, there are definitely strategies to make your email marketing more social.  The best of both worlds – I love it.

Entrepreneur.com offered the following 5 tips to create a more social email experience in 2011:

  1. Make every message shareable. Include a Like/Tweet button or a social share bar in every email newsletter. The “Forward to a Friend” feature lets subscribers share your newsletter with another person by email. But by adding social icons at the top of your e-mail, those same people can now share it with their entire Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn networks. That extends your reach to a highly qualified audience of prospects.
  2. Kick-start your social presence using your email marketing list. Invite e-mail subscribers to connect with you on social networks. Include links to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages in your e-mail marketing communications. Don’t forget to provide reasons why subscribers should join you on social media destinations — and how that experience will be different from your email communications.
  3. Include a “social call to action” in every email newsletter. Don’t rely solely on social media icons and buttons to get readers to visit your social media outposts. Entice readers with a link to a hot conversation you want to continue on Twitter (or another discussion destination), or to an exclusive contest or survey you’re featuring on Facebook.
  4. Solicit feedback and find newsletter content. Use crowdsourcing on social media sites to find out what topics are trending with your customers. Invite questions and feedback, and join the conversation. Then use the frequently asked questions and the feedback gathered as material for newsletter content. At the same time, spark a conversation and continue it via email and social media. Don’t forget to include and encourage social media feedback in every issue of your newsletter.
  5. Cross-post to all your communication channels. Always post your newsletter content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep conversations going by re-posting different snippets across social media channels. Even better, fan the discussion flames by sending out a separate email letting readers know about conversations happening on social media and inviting them to participate.

What other advice/thoughts do you have in regards to making email more social?  :)

Airlines, Politicians: New Use for Twitter

In Strategy, Twitter on January 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

Companies and individuals are continuing to get comfortable with Social Media.  Different industries are discovering ways they can utilize certain tools.  There definitely is not a cookie-cutter approach with your online communication strategy – just suggested guidelines.

Anyway, a recent Social Time article shared a new way airlines and politicians are using Twitter.  With the winter weather affecting so many people’s flight schedules, it’s a great tool to allow passengers to check if flights are on time/delayed or to share a complaint (which gets handled).  This is interesting to me, since my brother works in the airline industry.

Here’s the article:

Airlines

The good- Delta (@Delta), the twitter feed of this airline company is responsive to each customer’s complaint.  Passengers are asked to send in their flight number so that the flight can be checked to see if it has been delayed or canceled.  Delta offers apologies and to reassure passengers that the flights will be back in service as soon as possible that is if the news is bad for your flight.

The ok – JetBlue (@JetBlue), instead of using direct tweets as Delta has successfully done this past week, JetBlue has decided to use the direct mail service of twitter to help passengers whose flights may have been delayed or canceled.  While it may not be as quick as Delta, at least JetBlue is offering personal responses to each of its passengers.

The bad- Continental (@Continental), while attempting to be a participating company on twitter Continental unfortunately has dropped the ball.  Instead of answering concerned passengers tweets or even direct messaging passengers, Continental has chosen to answer tweets with a standard response of “Our Social Media team is unable to rebook or give info on individual flights. We know this isn’t what you want to hear.”  They are right, many passengers would prefer a personalized response like the other airline companies are offering during this blizzard.

Politicians

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was facing criticism for not responding fast enough to the winter storms that have descended on New York City in the past; the mayor’s office, in response to the complaints, set up a twitter feed, @311NYC.  This twitter feed allows New York City residence to post complaints, concerns, and questions.  While the program has been put to great use during the rest of the year, it is during the winter storms that 311NYC is most effective.  An example of its usefulness waswhen the mayor announced via twitter @311NYC that the parking meters will be turned off today due to snow removal.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has also used twitter effectively.  Instead of setting up a twitter feed to answer questions and to alert the community of issues, Mayor Booker has his own twitter feed.  Any resident of Newark just needs to send a tweet to @CoryBooker asking for assistance in clearing their driveway, and help is on its way.  The Mayor will either come by and help the resident himself or have a member of his constituency come by to offer assistance.  Mayor Booker is hoping that his hard work during the winter pays off for the rest of the year when residence find something to complain to the city about

How else could your industry use Twitter and Social Media tools?   AND, as a passenger…what other ways could airlines use social media to better serve you?