Social media has now become such a huge part of our lives that it is being used in ways I certainly never thought.
This morning on the bus to work I was reading the Metro and was reading a story involving a court awarding in favour of a woman divorcing her husband through Facebook.
As part of the proceedings, Ellanora Baidoo will send her husband a message once a week for three weeks until he acknowledges it.
In politics, the election is being touted as the first ‘social media election’. This is being reflected in politicians trying to reach out to voters through associating themselves with figures on social media with high followings, for example Nick Clegg posing for selfies with Joey Essex.
The Lib Dems have also made a parody of Uptown Funk in the hope of it going viral and trying to reach out to younger voters. With the dislikes massively outweighing the likes on YouTube, and with one comment reading ‘This is easily the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I saw Vanilla Ice in concert’, it may not have had the desired effect.
After the most recent debate on the television, polls were being measured on the social media response each speaker got as well as the previous traditional methods used.
The point I am making is that social media is now gracing us in every walk of life, especially in the marketing world.
It is now at the forefront of all communications we make and should be at the forefront of all communications your business is making.
Not on LinkedIn? It’s free, sign up today.
Does your company have a Facebook page? Set it up today, and set up your Facebook ads too.
Most of you reading this will already be affluent in this and will be utilising social media to the best of your ability.
However there will be a number of you who are yet to setup social media for your business. It’s not too late – and it is not the waste of time or money that you think.
In a survey on socialmediaexaminer.com, 92% of marketers indicated that social media was important for their business in 2014.
Not sure where to start with social media?
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So you’ve developed a huge following on social media. You’ve developed lots of time, effort and money into getting that vast following – but are you reaching out to them?
It’s all well and good having either hundreds or thousands of followers, but if you’re not frequently communicating and engaging with them, what’s the point in them even being there?
Here are four ways to engage with your social media following:
1) Ask for engagement. ‘Like for this…’ ‘RT for that…’ It works! If you have a competition where the follower has to ‘retweet’ or ‘share’ to win, this instantly plasters your company name across the timeline of a new audience.
2) Participating in groups encourages further engagement. It is useful for discussion and debate and also a useful place to post your content. By posting in industry relevant groups you already know that you are targeting the correct audience.
3) Imagery is so important. With apps like Instagram and software like Adobe Photoshop giving you the ability to make images more attractive in such a short space of time, companies who are lazy with their images will pay the price.
4) Showing off a personality is very important as a business on social media. More and more often we are seeing companies having rap battle and squabbles over Twitter to try and gain followers and engagement. By showing you are not just a generic company Twitter, come across as a human being and less like a robot.
Interact with your followers: posting content, leaving it there with replying to feedback is such a wasted opportunity. An increase in interactions over time will definitely lead to a higher conversion rate.
So you have a great website and are currently releasing interesting, useful content on a regular basis. You are managing to engage a little with your followers or fans, and are finding that some of the same names keep popping up time and time again.
There are the people who are always commenting on articles or discussions and always give you feedback when you ask for it. They might seem as passionate about your product as you are. These people are your community heroes.
Your community hero is like a brand advocate and in terms of marketing is a great person to have on board.
Why To Engage With Your Community Hero
When you have someone who is truly passionate about your product or brand, you need to utilise them to their best effect. Having someone from outside your business advocating it gives a much stronger message to potential customers than you yourself telling them why your product is so great.
Another great reason to get them engaged is because you can substantially extend your online reach. It is always useful to have people that can open your product up to all of their contacts, but also, logic tells us that people that they know will probably be of a similar demographic, and therefore more likely to be interested in your product. For example, if your company make fitness shakes, one person who is interested in fitness is more likely to know other people who are interested in fitness than a person who is chosen at random.
The third and possibly the most important reason to engage with your community hero is because if you keep them happy and engaged, they will not only feel like you are appreciating them and including them, but you are also creating a customer for life. They may not stay a community hero for life but they are almost certainly going to continue buying your product.
How To Engage With Your Community Hero
OK, so we now need to work out how we`re going to keep these community heroes engaged, Here are five ideas:
Fan Of The Week – You could feature them as fan of the week. Find out a little about their story, why they love your product or brand and make them feel really appreciated.
Guest Posts – If they seem like they write well, why not invite them to write a guest post on your website – about something relevant of course
Ask Them For Their Opinion – Make them feel special and ask them specifically for their opinion on new ideas or products, or other elements of your business such as how easy it is to buy online, delivery experiences, etc. You could create a special advisory panel of community heroes – or those who have shown a great amount of interest. This will both make them feel involved and give you valuable information.
Respond Personally – Make sure that you maintain the level of communication so that your hard work is worth it. Try to respond to them personally and show that you appreciate their input.
Get Them In As Admin – If you have a particularly strong relationship with them, and they have the knowledge to do so, why not get them onto your team? Maybe you could give them admin rights to your social media or forums so that they can really help you in a day to day manner.
Online Community Heroes are something that should be treasured. The pure fact that they are willing to spend their precious time on your business is enough to mean that they need to be nurtured. So go and work out who these people are and get engaging!
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
We are constantly being told about how important it is to be present on social media all the time. The thing about social media is just that. It is social. So like anything else which is social, presence is really important. We need to show that we are up to date, personable and available when we are needed.
Staying continually present on social media needn`t mean that someone has to be sat behind a computer all day every day, putting out content and waiting for messages to come in to respond to. There are a few things that you can do to make yourself more present and maintain it.
Designate A Social Media Person
Designate someone within your business to be your social media person. Get them to check your messages just three times a day and respond to them straight away. This means that they won`t be sitting waiting for messages to come in, but will be attentive enough for people to feel like they`re not being ignored.
Put Out The Right Content
Try to put out some sort of content every day. It is much more effective to release content which will provoke discussions and comments than something that won`t. If your content is interesting and provokes discussions, it will be shared, liked, commented on and have a far greater outreach than a simple article that may be read, and then forgotten about. With this kind of content your output will be far more present, productive and effective.
Share Other People’s Content
If you can find people in your industry or who are putting out information which is relevant to your businesses, share their information. It is perfectly acceptable to share other people`s content without having to re-write it yourself. You are not only saving yourself work, but also supporting other people and starting to build relationships. Almost certainly as soon as you start sharing other people`s content, they will begin to share yours – and this is the beauty of social networks.
React To Events
Although you don`t want to be sitting on social media all day every day, it is important that you react to any relevant events that might be occurring. Such is the way that social media works, you need to be ready at any time to comment on events which are happening there and then.
Run A Contest
One great way to keep your communities engaged is by running a contest. Ask them to make a short video or post photos. The continual update of this material from your community will mean that you need to spend less time writing content, and more time reviewing. You need to ensure that you show your face regularly, but won`t necessarily need to be continually writing new content. Getting your community involved also means that they feel part of something – which will make them happier, feel more engaged, as well as having the potential to reach many more people.
Using social media is a really great way of staying present in the lives of our communities. It is usually the case that we spend a lot more time on social media than we should do. However, it is more probable that this time is being spent check out what our friends are up to, or watching funny videos, than improving your engagement with your customer base. This is why it is important to stay focused and maximise the effect of your output whilst seeming to be present at all times.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
Social networks are becoming more and more important in the way that our world functions. It`s easy to forget however that there are other social networks, and not just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Whilst these social media platforms are important and widely used across the whole world, it could be that the demographic of your particular customer base are also using other social media platforms. The most effective businesses show that they have a complete understanding of their customer base and this includes hanging out where they hang out (online and offline).
There are new social media platforms coming out all the time, and older ones being re-vamped, so let`s have a look at what there is.
Google+ is the social media baby of Google. It involves friend circles, group hangouts, messenger, instant uploads and hashtags but is definitely very user-focused. It is open to brands, but still much more focused on the users. It is, however linked strongly to Google (the search engine), so it is worth getting on there for this reason alone.
Image focused social media is being seen to be the next big thing. Pinterest is a vision-board styled social media platform, and if your product or service is visually appealing, you really should get on Pinterest.
Users create a particular theme board and `pin` photos to it. The aim to create links across the world with others with shared interests. You can follow themes and businesses, so it can find you many new `followers`, or people interested in your business theme, quickly and in really diverse locations. Users can also `re-pin` your photos (much like sharing on Facebook) hence, spreading the net wider still.
Ryze is a social networking site for professionals, mainly entrepreneurs. It allows people and businesses to connect with one another and if you are either an entrepreneur yourself or looking to find business from entrepreneurs, this may be a useful network for you.
YouTube is a video sharing site, which has, well, just about everything. People are becoming much more switched on to the power of video these days. Due to the amount of time that we spend on the internet as well as better and faster internet connections, we are becoming much lazier in terms of reading, and turning quickly to video.
You can use YouTube to get great content out there in a similar way to blogging. People can follow you and, one of the best things of all is that they care share your video across other social media platforms.
TalkBizNow is a social media platform designed to help small businesses. Their aim is to help businesses with their needs, make contacts and integrate it all through the web. Not only can you create a profile and network, this social platform also has a big file storage facility, you can manage your calendar, host webinars, web and voice conferencing and even manage all of your other social media.
As the name suggests, this is a social media platform for, well, the affluent. You need to be able to prove that you are affluent enough to be able to join this exclusive club. Once you`re in though, you can enjoy meaningful conversations as well as exclusive features, and quality advice and content from industry experts.
If your business is aimed at these kinds of people, it is worth trying to get in, or at least becoming a featured industry expert!
The world of social media can be a bit of a mine field, but if you do some extra research, you might just find that there is a platform which could do wonders for your business.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
Businesses are constantly being told that they need to use social media to engage with their customer base as well as finding new customers. It is becoming so important in today’s society that it has been suggested that companies are dedicating an average of 28% of their spend on social media advertising.
It’s not as straightforward as getting on all of the popular social networks however. Getting your digital marketing right on social media can be very time consuming, so it’s worth working out where is best to concentrate your efforts.
There’s no point in spending hours on a LinkedIn campaign if none of your customers or potential customers use it. So which social network is right for your business?
The three most popular social networks at the moment are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so we’ll concentrate on these three…
Facebook is the most widely used social network, and its users are spread across every demographic of society. Actually, every business should be on Facebook. They boast 1.19 billion users worldwide, so there’s no excuse for a business not to be on there.
Although other social media may be better for generating sales, there is no better social network for increasing brand awareness and ease of communication with your brand community.
There is no particular group or demographic who use Facebook more than other social media, so it is a win win situation. One thing to be aware of however is for businesses with a lot of younger, teenage users. It seems that due to the number of parents who are joining Facebook, the number of teenagers who consider Facebook to be the most important social network is falling. That doesn’t mean that they’re not still using it but perhaps that you should concentrate your marketing towards the teenagers elsewhere.
When you are thinking about what content to put out on Facebook, it has been discovered that posts with a photo generates 120% more engagement than just written content, and that posts shorter than 250 characters have 60% more engagement than longer posts. It has also been discovered that posts posing a question have twice the engagement than non-question posts. It’s worth bearing all of this in mind when you’re thinking about what content you are going to put out.
Known as the social network for professionals, LinkedIn is a great option for reaching professionals and other businesses alike. LinkedIn has some interesting statistics. 38% of internet users who earn over $75K are on LinkedIn and the most dominant sectors are tech (14.3%), finance (12.4%) and manufacturing (10.1%), whilst the legal sector has only 1.4%. It has also been stated that 79% of LinkedIn’s users are over 35 meaning that it is one of the platforms with the oldest customer base.
It is worth remembering however, that people aren’t using LinkedIn for social or fun reasons. They don’t log in every day, just more occasionally to network and see what’s happening in the world of business.
Although Twitter is not quite as popular as Facebook, those who use Twitter are even more faithful to it, with 43% of its users entering every day.
Twitter allows users to ‘follow’ brands much easier than other social networks and many of them do it so take part in special offers or competitions. Twitter is an excellent platform for those businesses who really want to engage with their customers. It is also strongly linked to in the minute developments, so if your business relies on new events – news, sports, or anything else that relies on events happening now, you need to be on Twitter.
When you’re planning your social media marketing, you need to make sure that you know who your target audience is and then choose your social network accordingly. This will ensure that you will get the most out of your time (and money) spent.
It is nigh on impossible to market a product or service to someone if you don’t know who that person is. If you ask any marketer they will tell you that the first step to a successful marketing campaign is to understand who your target audience is and what works with them. Depending on a number of factors, such as age, gender, location, education, you will tailor your campaign both in what you say and how you say it.
Although your work online may be only a part of your overall business, the internet is becoming used increasingly across the whole spectrum of society. No longer is it just the play-thing of geeky 20-somethings. Now people of all ages, ethnicities and levels of education are using the internet to conduct their lives. And the best thing for you as a marketer is that we can gain useful information about our potential customers through the internet.
There are three main questions that a marketer needs to try to answer about their target audience, and by bearing these in mind you can then start to understand them better.
Probably the most important is this. You need to understand their demographics – their gender, age, location, marital status etc. This will give you a deep understanding into how to approach them, where to market, what tone to use, what visuals to use, content ideas, the list is endless. It might be that your target audience isn’t just one demographic group and that it spans across various.
You can get this kind of information through tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook, but you can also get this by talking to your customers – either ‘formally’ through surveys and questionnaires or ‘informally’ through chatting with them. This will also tell you a lot about how they like to interact with other people and businesses alike.
Where Do They Like To Hang Out?
If you are intending on putting out content using social media it is vital that you know where they hang out online. There is no point in working on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram if most of your clients use LinkedIn. You can spend hours preparing the best written content in the world but if it doesn’t reach your target audience, it’s useless.
It’s also worth looking into whether they watch a lot of TV or listen more to the radio, read newspapers or glossy magazines etc.
If you are a bit stuck on where to start, try Facebook, as it has the largest and most diverse user-base. As you get to know your customers better you can then turn to other social media.
Find Out Their Interests And Concerns
By understanding other aspects of the lives of your customers you can flesh out your target audience profile, gain new ideas for content and by showing empathy and understanding of other issues in their lives, build a stronger and longer lasting relationship.
To an extent you can work out what other interests and concern your customer base might have. If they are mainly teenage boys, it may be video games, sports, girls, or music, whereas an audience comprising of retirees may be interested in gardening, cruises or looking after the family in the future.
If you are going to do anything before embarking on a marketing campaign it is this – understand your target audience. By having a deep understanding of your target audience you can begin to work out how to appeal to them and sell your product.
We’re all constantly being told how important it is to use Facebook and Twitter to market businesses online, but LinkedIn is often overlooked. Whilst it may be more obvious on other social media, LinkedIn definitely cannot be ignored.
LinkedIn is considered to be the largest community of affluent and influential people. There aren’t many top professionals who don’t have a LinkedIn account these days, as it is powerful as a networking tool. This is itself is valuable reason to get your business on there.
Recent statistics show that LinkedIn has over 300 million users around the world, in 200 countries. They also state that there are 2 new LinkedIn members per second.
According to recent statistics, the average LinkedIn member earns $109K per year. This shows that LinkedIn is not only valuable for a big outreach, but also connects affluent and hence influential people. What better way to get a direct audience with the people who make the decisions? It has been suggested that 50% LinkedIn member have decision making authority within the company where they are working.
LinkedIn is an ideal platform for passive marketing. By just creating a profile, you’re already starting. Create a business page for your company and this becomes even better. Keep your profile updated and keep making connections to stay up-to-date and on top. Like anything, the more time and effort spent on your profile, the better and more effective it’ll be.
LinkedIn has a search facility which allows members to search for products and services. This means that people can find you easily, and as often is the case, people like to buy from those who are similar to them.
Another benefit of LinkedIn is that contact can be made with people that you would never have contact with otherwise. Such is the business nature of LinkedIn; there’s no shame in connecting with people for the sake of business. This isn’t Facebook; you don’t have t be ‘friends’. The recommendations function means that people can, erm recommend you. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get new business.
There are also opportunities to market aggressively. This doesn’t mean spamming and being unpleasant, but going out and getting business instead of waiting for it to come to you.
You can join LinkedIn groups which inspire discussions amongst those with similar interests. By connecting with these people, appearing knowledgeable in your area and offering free help, you can build your profile and become the go-to person about something. This will build the reputation of your business and increase the likelihood of people using it.
LinkedIn do offer paid advertising which may work for you. They often do special offers so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled.
Status updates are a great way of getting out a short message. Talk about what you are currently working on or subjects that could be of interest to your target audience.
LinkedIn also has a publish function where you can release longer content. This can be shared and sent on, and people can also follow you, meaning that they’ll receive any new content that you release. If you have great content, LinkedIn might publish it on their homepage giving you an even better reach.
The search function means that people can find you, but also that you can find them. Connect with your target audience by searching for them and by making sure that you have a perfect profile when they look for you.
LinkedIn can be a very powerful marketing tool for any business, but especially those looking to target affluent or influential people. You have a direct connection to the most influential people in business and this cannot be ignored.
With the growth of social media, the way that businesses promote themselves, secure new business and retain existing customers is changing. These people are no longer a passive audience; they are now expecting more engagement and two-way conversation. It’s almost as if we are reverting back to the medieval times when there was someone within the community to carry out every service that was required.
To turn your online audience into an online community, the key is engagement, and here are 5 ways to get them engaged, make your online presence more effective and grow your community:
To promote two-way conversation, you need to respond personally to people. This means replying to emails or messages in a personal manner, without generic messages which don’t really answer the specific question that you are being asked. If you have so many queries to respond to, get someone else to help you. There’s nothing wrong with dispatching a special agent to help you out.
Try to respond to both positive and negative comments – and don’t shy away from complaints, people will respect you more in the long run.
Speak Directly To Your Audience
Think about the voice of your brand. What would it sound like? Funny? Serious? Intelligent? Speak directly to your audience through your website and social media with this voice. When you are writing copy, imagine your typical customer sitting across the table from you and write as you would be talking to them. The phrase “appeal to many, talk to one” is the key here. Some people say that social media should be treated like a telephone, not a megaphone.
Hold Community-Based Events
Encourage your community to get involved with events and competitions. You could ask them to send photos of themselves using your product, and encourage them to talk between themselves. Invite comments on photos published by both you and them. By getting to know other ‘users’, your community will start networking within itself, which could be beneficial to everyone and not just for you.
Put Out The Right Content
As part of building a community, you will get to know your customer base better. This will allow you to release content which is of great interest to them, although not necessarily being directly linked to your business. This serves to strengthen the community even more and you will find people returning all the time even when they are not looking to buy, and as a consequence, they won’t think twice when they are actually wanting to buy.
Be Interested In Your Followers
By showing an interest in your following, you are not only being kind to them and showing that you are a person; you are also potentially gaining more exposure for yourself. The internet is a network. By following your followers, you are opening the doors to many other people similar to that follower. By commenting on updates on your follower, many people who you would never have reached before.
By showing your personality and that you are trustworthy, your followers will automatically want to be engaging with you. You can maximise the effect of this engagement by growing your own community and this can prove to be valuable for not only you and your business but also for your community members. By providing value to them they will not only be sure to use your product or service, but also recommend to others.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
As part of your existing marketing strategy you should already be producing many blogs on a weekly basis.
LinkedIn have now got involved and you can now produce articles onto LinkedIn directly.
Initially this was only available to just one hundred LinkedIn members – which were slowly expanded to 25,000 in February of this year. Just recently it has been made fully accessible to all Linked In members.
Where you can share updates on LinkedIn, there is now a pen just to the right of this box where you can access the writing tool and publish your own content on to LinkedIn directly.
So, how does this help you?
The new LinkedIn platform is very, very similar to WordPress – the toolbar at the top contains most functions that you would find on the blog writing site.
This is very different to simply sharing an update – your article now has a potential audience of thousands – even millions of people.
Putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, can be a very daunting experience for many. However with a little bit of practice, you will see you writing skills develop. As these skills enhance you will see the direct correlation between this and your own following.
Why write on LinkedIn?
If you frequently express thoughts and opinions that create engagement and provoke some thought from the audience then this had already been a worthwhile experience. It will increase your credibility to your following and this will no doubt convert to some business.
With the link tool in place on the toolbar you can still link back to your own blog or your website via these articles. Attractive articles will attract people to your website and as a result increase the traffic flow to your own site.
LinkedIn also provides you with information on the people viewing your articles, like their job roles or the industries they work in. If certain people from certain industries are browsing your articles then you can aim other more direct marketing campaigns towards these demographics.
You can also share the articles you produce on other social networks so you can branch out towards a wider audience.
Marketing and networking is always rapidly changing – stay ahead of the game and start getting your name out there on LinkedIn – let me know how you get on.