Tag: facebook

The 5 Principles for Social Media Success

Shaun and I sat down to chat about the 5 principles of social media success and a range of solutions for implementing these principles. This video and presentation are a follow-on from our previous blog post and companion to an upcoming seminar we will be running.

Tell us what you think, and as always, let us know if you need advice or further information.

[slideshare id=22689137&doc=the5principlesforsocialmediasuccess1-130609045350-phpapp01]

The 5 Key Principles to a Successful Social Media Strategy

Like with any business, there are 5 key principles that will set you apart from your competition if you want to be successful with your social media. The game may have changed but the rules are still the same.
Identify – It is important to understand that before you even begin, you need to know who your target market is. Now this is not just the basics of age, sex, location, income etc but more about what makes your target market tick. What are the characteristics of target market, how to they behave, what will make them take action? Ultimately the point of your social media is to engage and to do that you have to know how to speak the right language and to do that you need to know in depth knowledge about your customer base. Otherwise your messages are going to fall short or miss the mark all together. Even though you may have identified that women between the ages of 25-54 with an average income of $65,000 pa are your market, your communication may not connect with them and all your efforts will be largely lost.

Locate – Next is to be able to locate this target market online, what social media channels best suit them. Just because Facebook is the largest, it doesn’t necessarily make it the most effective. With so much communication Facebook is great losing its cut through to the end user for businesses trying to get their message heard. So on top of having the right message you also now need to think about if it is even being heard. Torrents of messages from friends, businesses and others are constantly streaming to people walls and in boxes and without investment in advertising Facebook is becoming increasingly difficult to get any ROI. So perhaps Pinterest or YouTube may be better or, dare I say it, a good old fashioned email. Yes email is a social network albeit very sterile, it is a form of communication that can be shared and forwarded. Many believe that mail is making resurgence due to its cut through to the end user, allowing them to make a decision and not be confused with other social media messages.

Infiltrate – Once you located and defined your target market you can then start to infiltrate them through engaging and informative content that leaves them with the subtle feeling that “this business understands me and my needs”. This infiltration process is what breaks down the walls of distrust and opens the doors of trust. To become a knowledge base in your industry will encourage users to stop and listen to what you have to say, to comment, to share and to interact and that is what makes social media so important. I am more likely to use the services of a referral from someone I trust.

Educate – The process of engaging with your target market is the process of education. Why should I believe you? Why should I use your services and not someone else’s? Why should I trust you? How do I know you know what you are doing and what my needs are? Social media allows you to do this by not only allowing you to deliver your message to people who want to listen but also by the sharing of your content with other who may want or need your products or services.

Convert – Finally once all the previous steps are in place your target market are in the prime place for you to convert them. Your message is clear, you are contacting them in the right place and they are in need of the product or services you offer and you are someone who they can trust that knows what they are doing. All these pieces now fit together and the conversion process becomes relatively simple as they have been given the opportunity to engage with you without being sold to. This is fundamentally what is so attractive about social media as a form of business.
Now all this doesn’t happen overnight. Too many people believe that social media is an event when in fact it is a journey. If you expect to see the results straight away then you don’t understand how to be sociable and you probably lack social skills yourself. An analogy I like to use when I describe this is as follows. When you go to a networking event or a party you are not likely to know anyone and in some cases you may not know anyone at all. Let’s assume you know no one, you don’t go in there and suddenly expect to magically know everyone, you have to take your time to walk the room and introduce yourself, you tell people about yourself and you find out about them. Some people will like you and some won’t, some will remember you and some won’t but it didn’t happen by clicking your fingers and neither does it happen by clicking your mouse button. In fact you will likely have to attend to multiple events and parties before people remember you depending on how well you engaged with them.
So remember the 5 principles of Social Media are just like meeting people in real life, you need people to warm to you and build relationships with them before you can expect them to want to know more about you and to use your services.

Can you keep up with social media?

If you’re in charge of social media for your business, you know it can be time consuming and confusing. Especially for a beginner, knowing how it all works and why can be overwhelming. If you take the time to get yourself up to speed and develop good habits and practices, you will thank yourself in the long run.

Facebook is the main network that most businesses like to use, and it also presents many challenges, so I will focus on it as an example.

Mechanics

Taking the time to understand how each social media network works is imperative in creating and maintaining a successful presence.

Facebook organises its News Feed by an algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank determines what posts users see based on Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.

Affinity is the connection between users – the more interaction you have with a user, the more likely you are to see their posts. Affinity is a one-way score calculated on your interactions, not the other person’s, and it can increase or decay over time. Therefore, it is imperative that you encourage fans to interact with your page to they can see your updates in their news feed.

Weight refers to the type of post and the kind of interactions it has received. Facebook wants to present to users the content it thinks will be the most engaging. Traditionally, more engaging content like photos and videos will rank higher than just plain text statuses. Similarly, shares and comments rank higher than likes. Basically, Facebook will give the most weight to the most engaging content – which can be a text status if it has lots of shares and comments, because Facebook has recognised that it has a lot of interactions and would be interesting to users.

Time Decay is simple in that old stories drop in rank because they are less current and relevant to the user, whom Facebook has determined, wants to see new stories.

Monitor and correct

It is important that while you are working hard to create the most engaging and relevant content, you monitor your insights to see what works for your fans. Do your fans like watching videos, how well to they respond to photos? While the traditional EdgeRank algorithm still stands, it is constantly evolving. More often now, EdgeRank will take into account any negative feedback on your posts, such as when a user ‘hides’ a post.

Over the last few months I was watching and reporting on SLAM’s insights and noticed that while we were gaining more fans and seeing more engagement, our reach was declining. By noting the amount of “people saw this” for each post on the Page, I could see that text-only posts had greater reach. Therefore I changed my tactic, posting more text based posts in addition to regular posts which I knew were effective, such as videos and Top Tip Tuesday images.

Keeping an eye on what’s going on with your page will allow you to make changes quickly so you can maintain good brand exposure.

Read, read, read

To make the most of each social media network, you need to understand how they work and how to use them to your advantage. If you are running your own social media, I recommend reading blog posts, signing up for email lists, and watching videos on all facets of social media.

As mentioned before, Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm, privacy terms and rules for Pages are constantly changing. You need to know the ins and outs of the networks to avoid being penalised by Facebook or missing out on key features and best practices on Pinterest. Do you know what the rules are for running a promotion or competition on your Page? Do you know how to make the most out of LinkedIn? Do you know where to get insights and analytics for your social media networks?

It does take time to keep up with all that is happening in the ever evolving social media world. If you feel like you don’t understand everything or simply don’t have the time to do it, you have the option of outsourcing the work to a professional who has a more in-depth understanding of social media.

Do yourself a favour

Use technology to make your social media responsibilities a lot easier. Apps like HootSuite and Buffer allow you to load up posts to be automatically uploaded at a time of your choosing. You can load up a week’s worth of posts for multiple accounts to save time throughout the week (but make sure you upload some posts directly to Facebook to give them a better ranking). Some sites will show you the best times for posting, and others provide detailed page or profile insights – use these to find the best times and ways to connect with fans and potential customers.

Remember, social media is not 9-5; often the most effective posts are ones that are uploaded outside of regular office hours. Social media does take time, but like with traditional forms of marketing, planning and reviewing your actions are the keys to success. If you get stuck, we’re always happy to help. 🙂

Getting started with social media for business

Getting started with social media can be daunting for many businesses. You may not know where to start, which networks you should be using or how to get the most out of those networks.
Most businesses use social media because it is free (or low cost) with the added benefits of being able to personalise your message and content and monitor performance through analytics.

Importance of social media for businesses

Why is social media important for your business? Social media enables you to connect with current and potential customers online. You can use social networks like mini websites to display information such as products and services, contact info, and opening hours.

Social networks enable you to be social and build your online community to spread positive word of mouth about your business. You can join Groups on Facebook to chat with other business owners to swap ideas and make connections. If your business has a store or office, tell customers about your social networks, ask them to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ you and help spread the word.

Your social networks allow you to ‘listen’ to what your customers want, and what they are saying about your brand. Importantly, you can use social media to maintain online customer service. Are your customers or fans posting questions or comments to your networks? Respond! Always respond to customer questions in a timely and professional matter. If you are receiving negative feedback, respond calmly and ask how you can rectify the situation. Your social networks are for reputation management as much as they are for community building and driving sales. Remember, what is on the Internet is there forever, so be careful what you post.

Find out what your customer’s wants and needs are through keyword searches, monitoring groups and reading forums. Say you own a bakery and you have seen a post on a group for Mums asking for suggestions on the best place to buy a birthday cake. You can jump right in and tell that person (and the group) about your services.

If you have a website (which you should), social media will help improve your search engine rankings, making it easier for customers to find you when they Google you! Share content from your site on your social media networks and encourage your fans to share it too.

Which social networks should you be using and how can you use them?

Deciding which social networks to use depends on your business, your target market and what you want to achieve from using those networks. If you sell power tools, you may not have much success on Pinterest, but find Twitter more useful.

Make sure you cross-pollinate your social network posts. Link your accounts so your Facebook posts are sent to Twitter, and vice versa, your Instagram pictures show up on Facebook, etc. It’s all about building your network and being seen more easily.

Customise your social networks, upload a profile picture of yourself or your logo and post good quality pictures for cover photos, background photos etc. so fans know who you are. Make sure all your contact information, links to your website and other sites are included in all your profiles.

Give your fans an incentive and reward for ‘Liking’ or ‘Following’ you – run a competition or offer through social media, just make sure you adhere to the terms and conditions of the site you are using. Facebook has strict rules about running competitions and require the use of third party apps.

Facebook: the all rounder.

A great starting point is always going to be Facebook – it’s your one stop shop for uploading photos, videos, text posts, joining groups, providing business details and contact info, etc. Facebook is becoming less friendly to brands in terms of limiting the visibility of posts so you need to work hard to create and share quality content.

Make sure your Facebook page has a personal touch, add photos and videos of yourself, your staff, what you’re up to, events, and more. Ask questions; find out what your customers want. Encourage content sharing and recommendations to promote your business.

Twitter: listen and learn

Not everyone is a fan of Twitter, but it can be a fantastic tool for networking, and allows you to ‘listen’ to customers more easily than on Facebook.

The Twitter news feed is not organised like Facebook’s is, it’s a constant stream of tweets so there’s a few things you need to do to make the most out of it. You’ve got 140 characters to play with but the tweets that get the most interactions are between 70-100 characters. Keep it concise and write it like a newspaper headline – you want to get people’s attention!

Use hashtags to join in on conversations and allow your tweets to be found more easily. Like Facebook, you can use the search function to follow keywords and join conversations to network and tell people about your business.

Don’t forget to use pictures and video in tweets – people respond more strongly to visual content and are more likely to click on your tweet if it has something interesting to look at.

You Tube: show off and educate

As any marketer will tell you, visual content is king. You can take advantage of video hosting sites to create content which can be shared on other networks to show your personality, and tell customers who you are and what your are all about.

Use any variety of video hosting sites: YouTube, Vimeo, Tout, Vine, Live Stream, etc. to promote your products, instruct and educate customers, demonstrate your expertise, and more. No matter what your budget, you can make a video with your webcam or hire a professional, just get creative and don’t ignore the power of video.

Always include strong keywords in video titles and tags to make sure they can be found by people looking for what you have to offer.

Pinterest & Instagram: show and inspire

The rising stars of social media, Pinterest and Instagram, are excellent for putting a personal touch on your brand and really connecting with people on a personal level. Use these networks to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business, get creative and have fun with it.

Businesses with strong visual content should be using these sites – bold, bright pictures are perfect for inspiring your customers and keeping your brand top of mind. Let’s use the bakery example again: you can upload pictures of delicious treats and tell customers where they to buy them. Pinterest is especially useful in its ability to drive referral traffic back to your website.
Like with other networks – be social. Use hashtags, pin and repin, respond to comments, and reach out to others users to create a vibrant community.

The final word

Get started! If you haven’t started using any social media networks, do it now. Why miss out on an opportunity to grow your business and connect with customers?

Remember, building an online community takes time, but it is totally worth it. Give it a go and if you need help or have any questions, we’ll be happy to assist!

Social Media (Facebook) vs Search (Google)

Social media is great, there is no doubt about that, I got my business off the ground using it. It is a great cost effective medium for start up businesses to use to get brand recognition because anyone can do it and you can do it for free.
However for that exact reason your messages can be lost in the ocean of messages that people see and the big question therefore is, “How do you stand out?” It takes a long time to build brand recognition and to generate a following of people to “like”, “tweet”, “share” your brand. So many people I talk to about online promotion think that if they build it they will come, when in reality it is far from that. Being a social platform, social media requires you to be social but more than that you need to follow the rules of that platform in order to get your message to more people. Facebook call this reach, reach is how many people saw your message. The more news feeds your message appears in the more likely someone is to see it and therefore the further your brand’s reach will be. Sounds simple, hey? Well the reality is that even if you know that, you’re still a long way from reality. If you want your business to appear in the news feeds of your fan’s friend’s pages then you need to talk to a company like SLAM Strategy, who understand how the platforms work.
So while people are busy looking at how Facebook can be their next big thing to help them with the growth of their business, many are choosing to ignore the realities of online and that is that 90% of all online searches are done using Google.
If your business isn’t coming up in search results for the words that relate to your businesses products or services then you are invisible to anyone searching for you. This can be the difference between your business thriving or failing; it’s as simple as that.
If you have the budget, you should firstly be looking at creating a sound and profitable Internet strategy around generating sales through Google. There are many businesses out there that can perform your Adwords or your Search Engine Optimisation. The reality is that what makes an online strategy successful has very little to do with the Adwords or optimisation work itself, but more to do with making sure you are implementing the right strategy for your business and that it takes you to where the real money is made.