Do You Need Help with Social Media?

Before you hire a social media marketing company, there are a few things to consider.

Social Media Misconceptions

facebook scam

First off, it’s important to understand that using social media doesn’t guarantee success. It’s incredible how many times I’ve heard people say something along these lines, “I’ve heard you can make A LOT of money using Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t know how”. Remember those Google scams from the early 2000s? – “I’ve made thousands with Google by working from home!” Perhaps, scams like these are the reason why people have this idea implanted into their head. And now, these have moved on into the world of Facebook and Twitter. So, if you ever see anything like this ad below, remember to avoid it!

If you don’t have enough time or manpower to put effort into your social media accounts, how can you expect your campaign to succeed?

Areas of Expertise

If your industry requires special attention, it’s important to bring up concerns and questions that you might have. Social media isn’t the same across the board. For example, handling social media for health-related businesses greatly differs from from promoting e-commerce sites or local businesses. Managing a health business’ campaign can be more complicated than just advertising the sales and other promotions of a more traditional business. Ideally, you would hire a firm with experience and success with businesses in your industry.

Do Your Research

Social media is NOT like other aspects of online marketing of SEO, PPC or web design/development. Perhaps, the scary thing about it is the element of the unknown and needing to have time and resources to monitor these social interactions. Why do you think big corporations have entire teams of people dedicated to social media? Before you hire someone to handle your social media campaigns, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re getting yourself into. Perhaps, the saddest story I’ve heard is that of a relatively big business who signed a contract to outsource their social media marketing. Hundreds of dollars later, all they got were a handful of irrelevant and disconnected Facebook updates. Social media is neither an afterthought or a business live saver, so make your decision wisely!

Ning for Social Media Marketing

ning social media Of all the popular social media marketing sites, Ning may not be as well known but things look like they’re quickly changing.

Ning is a social networking site with an appealing slogan – “Create your own social network for anything.” If I were to describe it, I would say that it’s a mish-mash of a blog, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and maybe even MySpace, all rolled into one.

Unlike other “free” services like Facebook, Ning has a different (paid) business model. This means that you’re more likely to see corporate and professional pages. Many people don’t like the idea of a paid service but I see that it has many advantages. For one, there’s not diluted with spambots and other bugs. Discussion and engagement seems more natural and enthusiastic.

Maybe that’s why it comes as no surprise that non-profits and other worthy causes have chosen Ning as its primary platform. Check out Martha Stewart’s Dreamers Into Doers and Amanda de Cadenet’s page dedicated to body image and other women’s issues. I see that these sites are strong examples of what Ning excels in. As for businesses, (especially small businesses), I’m not entirely sure the potential is all there yet, especially since it’s a paid service. But that is the point that Ning is trying to make as it’s straying away from being grouped as another Facebook or Twitter wannabe.

Ning has differentiated itself from competitors and in a major way. Revenue is reportedly up a whopping 400% from last year. Let’s see if Ning can continue to keep its thing going on and if it will catch on with more businesses.

The Many Faces of Social Media

When you think about the purpose of social media, what first comes to your mind? Nowadays, I don’t think there’s one “right” answer because social media is useful in so many ways. Let’s take a look at the different faces of social media:

The microblogger – When Twitter first came out, it was all about microblogging this and microblogging that. Today, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are amongst the many that have their very own microblogging service. If you don’t have enough time devoted to blogging, this is an excellent alternative.

The customer service representative – Another great thing about social media is that you can keep tabs on what customers are saying about your brand and respond quickly. Did you know that customers can skip the waiting (and awful hold music) by tweeting their problems? Time Warner Cable, for example, has a team of staff members solely for this purpose.

The salesperson – The immediacy and wide audience of social media sites give you the ability to promote your business 24/7. Sort of like a salesperson who never sleeps and isn’t as annoying. Well, maybe. Even though social media sites give you the opportunity to self promote, it doesn’t mean that you should overuse and abuse it.

The promotion team – Customers love to be appreciated as much as they like good deals. This is where your social media strategy can focus on promotions. From coupons to contests, this is the best way to drum up some good publicity and create customer interest in your brand.

The social butterfly – Sometimes, social media is just that – social. Have you ever wondered why trending topics on Twitter seem so random? It’s because it’s a result of some tedious, strategic marketing plan but rather, an organic outcome of what happens when people communicate together online. Savvy businesses are the ones who use this to their advantage and join in the most-talked about conversations.

In the end, social media doesn’t necessarily have to play all these roles for your business. There’s a lot of room for flexibility and growth so that you can find out which suits you best. Which one do you think is most important and why?

Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment

If you receive a negative comment, reply or message on any of your social media profiles, your first instinct would probably be to delete it before anyone sees it. But you can turn this negative into positive if you resist the urge to delete.

Resisting the Urge

Let’s say you do get rid of the comment – you’ll also immediately lose the chance of getting more information about that customer and getting to the root of their (and your) problem. As much as we’d like it to, deleting this comment won’t make the angry customer go away. What’s even worse is failing to recognize if your business or employees have wronged a customer. We’ve all heard that a satisfied customer might tell a few of their friends about your business. But an unhappy customer will go out of their way to let the whole world know!

Making Your Problems Worse

In fact, it could make your online reputation problems even worse. Have you ever heard of a little thing called Ripoff Report? This site is notorious for publishing all types of uncensored complaints from customers. The real kicker is that they NEVER (or almost never) remove these complaints, whether it’s unwarranted or not.  So, before you know it, that one quip on Facebook could turn into a permanent black mark on your brand’s name.

A Quick Response is Better

If you delete a customer’s comment, it will only make them more angry and ensure that you’ll lose their business. Instead, try to reach out on the public forum to show that you take customer service concerns very seriously. Converting a once unsatisfied customer could turn them into a new brand ambassador for your business, and at they may even follow up on their initial complaint. The bottom line is that you need to show that you’re paying attention to their comments and complains instead of just trying to make them disappear.

With the instantness and speed of social media sites, it’s important to learn about how to respond to all types of comments. Oh yeah, don’t forget to keep everyone on your team up to date about the response protocol. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open so that you won’t have to fear a negative comment again!

4 Reasons Social Media Just Isn’t Working for You

social media failMany people think that social media is a cure-all to their business woes. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you’re  struggling with social media efforts, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. But rather, take the time to look at some top reasons why it might not be working out for you:

  1. You think social media can replace blogging and SEO content.
    As I’d like to think of it, a little blogging can go along way. While a little time spent on social media isn’t very effective. Your SEO content is a permanent asset that will help you as the days/weeks/years go by while the timely for social media is very time-sensitive and more fleeting. Take a look at how they can work together instead of choosing one over the other.
  2. You don’t have enough time and lack management.
    The briefness and spontaneity of social media updates make it seem so “easy”. But, for social media to be most effective, you need to involve as many people/departments as possible. From sales, web designers, writers to your CEO, it’s important to have a coordinated view of your social media plan and goals.
  3. You don’t know where to go.
    Social media news and usage can often mean information overload. Instead of trying to diversify and being everywhere halfheartedly at once, why not try a few platforms and specialize?
  4. You might need to reevaluate your business model.
    As the sayings go, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey and you can’t polish a… well, you get the point. If you have problems with your business and are looking at social media as a way to put a superficial spin on it, chances are that it won’t work – for long anyways.

The best thing about social media is its potential to amplify your online presence. Trying things out for yourself and experimenting doesn’t hurt and you can always learn from your mistakes and successes. It also helps that you can take a good look at what your competitors are and aren’t doing as you try your hand at the social media game.

What the Fark?

Fark

StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, Digg… I could go on and on when it comes to social aggregation and bookmarking sites. Although these sites are all a little bit different from each other, Fark stands out on an off-beat class of its own.

When you arrive on the site, you’ll see that Fark focuses on what it calls “Not News“. This means all outrageous topics, from politics to humor. A standout factor is that Fark stories are exclusively chosen by the site’s editors – unlike other sites where users are allowed to submit and vote on/rate content. Have you used Fark and what do you think it can do for small business owners?

This isn’t a run-of-the-mill place to submit your SEO content. Go ahead, browse for yourself and see what types of articles are featured on Fark. How about “The newest extreme sport: Daredevil lawn mower racing. ‘Ready, Set, Mow‘” by Mother Nature Network? Sure, there are a lot of funny pictures and bizarre lists on Fark, but many sites are turning to eye-catching headlines to bring new life to otherwise mundane articles. If you have some fresh content with a side of wit, it won’t hurt to submit your story to Fark. Did I mention how much Fark loves pun-y headlines?

Sometimes, words are just words but with Fark, you’ll see the viral effect of an interesting story that you just can’t reach by only using “traditional” types of online marketing.

3 Thoughts on Social Media Marketing

Are you feeling overloaded by social media marketing news? If you find that there’s just too much to keep up with, here are 3 recent stories that caught my eye:

Yahoo News Like Log StudyThe Like Log Study by Yahoo! Labs

WHAT: This is a study that is a must read for statistics-fanatics and social media lovers alike. Over a span of 3 months, Yury Lifshits compiled an overview of Facebook Likes, comments and shares of some of the biggest websites and provides insight into what it means.

WHY: Did you know that social media engagement sharply after the first day it’s posted? Timing is everything and it’s possibly why social media optimization is becoming more important.


Is the Twitter RT Irrelevant? by Joel Postman

Twitter Retweet

WHAT: Is Twitter becoming so overflooded with Retweets that they’re actually becoming meaningless? In terms of “usefulness” and originality, RTs may be losing their weight, but what about when it comes to etiquette?

WHY: Last month, we dug a little more into retweeting. This article is thought provoking as we delve into netiquette and how it plays into interacting with your peers.


Brands That are Winning with Multichannel Marketing Strategies by Courtney Boyd Myers

social media best practices

WHAT: A quick overview of how successful brands are playing the social media game. It’s never a bad time to look at some best practices and to see how others are using the multi-channel strategy.

WHY: As much as we’d like to “win” solely using Facebook, Twitter, SEO, or PPC. It’s probably not going to happen. Diversifying your online efforts will give your business better leverage when it comes to amplifying your brand message.

So, after browsing these three stories, what do you think? Are there any other stories that have caught your attention and why?

Posterous for Simplicity

PosterousIf you haven’t heard of Posterous, it’s a blogging platform similar to Tumblr. As for simplicity, many users say that it takes the hassle out of blogging and that it’s even easier to use than WordPress!

Whether you’re thinking about switching platforms or starting a brand new blog, it’s helpful to take a look at why Posterous is becoming a popular choice amongst bloggers today.

  1. Design: Like WordPress and Tumblr, you also have a wide variety of choices when it comes to your blog’s theme and it’s also fully customizable.
  2. SEO – While Posterous isn’t exactly known for being search engine friendly, some say that the ‘constant theme’ is a plus. Since your pages will all look the same, this will help search engines crawl your blog and easily tell the difference between design and content.
  3. Social media integration – Posterous is extremely flexible when it comes to connecting to your social media profiles. Have you ever tried connecting something from your WordPress blog to Facebook? It’s do-able but rifling through plugins is time consuming and takes away from your blogging time. With Posterous, you can connect to Facebook, Twitter,  Flickr and more in one easy step.
  4. Simple blogging – Most bloggers use Posterous because it makes it easier for them to blog. There’s no need to deal with complicated plugins, updates and errors that can pop up in WordPress. With an email option, bloggers can collect any thoughts that pop up and post it as fast as they can fire off an email.

Posterous seems like a great light-weight blogging platform for those who don’t want to deal with the hassles of other services. While it may not have as many tools for internal customization and help with SEO, it’s social media integration is far ahead of WordPress and Blogspot. The good thing is that it’s free, so if you’re an avid blogger looking for new things – why not give it a try?

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 1)

You’re on Facebook and making posts. But, did you ever stop to see IF your posts are even being seen? Before we explore how to make the most out of those Facebook posts, it’s important to understand the method behind it.

The image above should look familiar. When you log onto Facebook, your friends’ posts or organized by ‘Top News’ or by ‘Most Recent’ posts.

Personally, I always like to view Most Recent posts. But according to an article on Social Media Today, a staggering 95% of people only view posts on the Top News feed, missing other posts that don’t rank as high. By default, posts are automatically organized by Top News.

So, did you know that Facebook has an algorithm for ranking these posts? It’s called Edgerank and consists of three main factors:

  1. Affinity – this relies on the relationship between you and the other user. If you guys interact more on Facebook (messages, wall posts, profile views), your friend’s “affinity score” will be higher than other people you don’t really talk to.
  2. Weight – Facebook gives a different weight of importance to things that you can engage in (Like, comment, tag).
  3. Time – Facebook is pretty much based in real-time so it’s not surprising that older posts become less important.

Knowing this should give you a better idea of what shows up on your main Top News feed and why. This is especially important for businesses because it’s only estimated that 40% business wall posts show up on Top News feeds.

Make sure to stay tuned for our next post later this week as we explore different ways you can optimize your Facebook wall posts!

What Happens After Reaching #1

Even after you reach the oh-so coveted #1 spot in search engine results page, your work is not done! Here are a few things that you still need to keep an eye on to make the most of your top ranking position:

Customer service – Are you ready to pick up the phone and help potential customers? Wait… before all that, make sure that your contact information is easy to find and up to date. If you use contact forms and have undergone recent site changes, check them to make sure that they still work work! There’s nothing worse than a customer inquiry that goes unanswered.

Search engine friendly web design – A well-optimized page and consistent SEO will help you maintain good rankings. This means that the search engines see that your site/pages are relevant with corresponding keywords and what business owner wouldn’t want that?

Search user friendly – Many sites have a bad habit of being too cluttered with content and other media. While these pages may help your SEO efforts, they can deter users. Content should be easy to find in appropriate sections so that your site is user-friendly. Imagine ranking #1 for a competitive keyword only to have users bounce away quickly from your site because they can’t find what they need!

PR and personality – Whether you utilize social media marketing or other forms of PR, it’s important to throw your brand name out there once in awhile. Press releases and social media not only help show your relevancy in your field but it also helps bring a personal touch to your business. Even in today’s world of overreliance on telecommuting and email, people do like to see the human side of your business. And yes, I think that you can also accomplish this with regular blogging.

What do you think are some other ways you can improve your site/marketing after reaching the #1 spot in SERPs?