blog - social media

How To Make Video Testimonials Work For you

September 23, 2017

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers, testimonials

Essential Do’s And Dont’s For Social Media Marketing

October 30, 2015

Filed under: Social Media



Social media dominates our lives and has evolved to become a fundamental communication channel in the marketing mix. Its constant evolution can make it difficult to stay on top of best practices. A key advantage is its wide reach that helps extend your brand presence and nurture your target audience.

You can use social media to build your Sales Pipeline by delivering high-quality content that demonstrates your expertise in solving your customer’s problem. Always keep in mind the 80/20 rule. Entertain and inform your audience first, sell to them second.


Here’s a simple list of Do’s and Dont's to apply to your day-to-day online social media management.
 

SOCIAL MEDIA DO’S

Do Keep Your Brand Identity Consistent

Establish a clear vision for your brand before you set-up your social media channels. Each social network has a different layout and format, so ensure that items such as your profile image and bio are consistent. Maintaining a consistent brand identity makes it easier for your audience to recognize you. With so many social platforms to choose from, make the time to adapt the voice of your message to match the network. Consistency is key to help boost your image, encourage positive conversations around your brand and strengthen the relationship between you and your company.

 
Do Choose The Right Platform For Your Business

Select the social channel(s) that offer the best potential for reaching your ideal audience and broadcast the type of content you have decided is best suited for your company. Start by creating a basic profile of your ideal client. This should include their age, gender, income bracket, and buying habits. Each social channel has its own personality so research where your customers already are, and where your business fits best. By evaluating each network carefully, and choosing the right ones for you, you will be able to maximize your time and ensure your efforts result in a return on your investment.

 
Do Engage With Your Audience

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a robot? Put a human face to your brand and be authentic with your conversation. Boost engagement by posting rich and relevant content that will resonate with your audience. This can include photos, memes, videos, blogs, hashtags and gifs. If it hits the spot, it instantly becomes shareable and likeable. Always include a call to action (CTA). When you tell your audience what you want from them, they are more likely to act upon it. Keep experimenting with your posts and over time, you will get the hang of what works best for your brand.

 
Do Build A Community

Building a strong, engaged community of Brand Advocates is so powerful. Brand Advocates are passionate about the brands they love and they have the power to influence the purchase decisions of the people they are connected to. Social media is a great platform to bring people together who share a common goal, interest or cause. Start by fostering a relationship with your followers. Listen to them, discover their interests, address their concerns, ask for feedback and reward them for their participation. Peer recommendation is one of the most effective forms of advertising.

 
SOCIAL MEDIA DONT’S

Don’t Not Have A Social Media Strategy

Social media is no longer an option and should form part of an integrated marketing plan. With so many people engaging in social media, it is difficult to ignore its potential to help businesses reach out to new and existing clients. Many businesses jump into social media with no real strategy or game plan. Done right, it can help you grow your business, generate leads and improve your competitive edge. To build a clear strategy, take into account what you are trying to achieve, who your customers are and what your competition is doing.

 
Don’t Buy Followers or Fans

Did you know that you can buy followers or likes? While it is an easy way to increase your social media numbers, it will ultimately hurt your business. There is a false sense of belief that having high counts of follows or likes on social media sites will give your business additional credibility. When you buy followers or fans, you are not getting people who are interested or willing to engage with you. They do not care about your business or its products, causing your engagement levels drop. You cannot run campaigns successfully when your audience is not ‘real’. Your social media presence should be making an impact organically, and contributing to the success of your marketing campaigns.

 
Don’t Stay Silent

How you respond to potential criticism on social media can make or break your brand. Always monitor activity across the platforms that you are on and keep abreast of developments and activity. Never ignore or delete negative comments. It only serves to anger the already disgruntled customer even more. Do you really want to give them cause to tell all their friends how bad their experience with your company is? Deal with it immediately by offering an apology and offering a solution. Plan what to do in a crisis. Remember, a crisis is an opportunity to prove just how great your organisation is.

 
Don’t Post Too Much

How to connect with your audience without driving them away? Consider the social network you are posting to, then look at the length of your posts, the quality, value of the content you are providing and evaluate if is it strictly promotional. You want your audience to be engaged, not overwhelmed with poor quality content or even worse, spam. Your focus should be on gathering and sharing as much interesting and relevant content as you can. Find the right balance by testing, experimenting, measuring, and improving.

 
Organic growth and engagement is the foundation of any successful social media strategy. What is crucial is that you tailor a strategy that is a good fit for your company based on your business goals. If you could add a tip to the checklist above, what would it be?

 

About Judith Silva

Judith Silva is a Marketing Strategist and the driving force behind SPINN Media – a boutique creative agency specializing in website design, mobile app development, graphic design and outsourced marketing services. She’s been actively involved in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industry for over 20 years. Judith is a mother of two lovely girls and is crazily in love with her husband of many, many, many years. If you need help getting started with your social media strategy, get in touch with her at: judith.silva@spinnmedia.com.au

 

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Tags: social media, social media marketing, social media strategy, marketing, marketing plan, marketing strategy, content strategy, target audience, customer engagement, engagement, sales pipeline, lead generation

3 Steps To Increase Your Likes On Social Media

March 10, 2015

Filed under: Social Media


Buying followers is not only ambiguous and dangerous……it’s downright dishonest. It takes a long time to get legitimate followers. Everyone’s looking for a quick fix, and some just don’t have the time or energy to wait. Fake followers can and will compromise the sincerity of your brand. That is a definite.

Here’s our best advise to increase your likes, in 3 simple steps:
1. Be consistent and just have a conversation with people. That’s the sure-fire way to win fans.
 
2. Show your brand personality, whether it’s humour, and intellectual or cultural significance.
 
3. Find a niche and work out how you can draw a parallel to your product in the best possible way.
 
So do yourself a favour and do things the right way.
 
Social Media Examiner highlights four tools to help you find and remove fake followers from Twitter and Instagram: http://bit.ly/SpinDr-DumpFakeFollowers

Tags: Followers, Social Media, Instagram, Twitter, Increase Likes, Grow Likes, Brand, Buying Followers

New Facebook Timeline for Business

March 7, 2012

Filed under: Social Media

On February 29, 2012, Facebook announced that the new Facebook Timeline for Business Pages will be rolled out from 30 March. Like it or not, you can't stop it. Everyone is learning how the new changes will affect them. We listed out some of the key things you should know here:
 
Tip 1: Default Landing Tabs

Facebook has eliminated the capability to set a published Tab as the default landing page for your Business Page. Your Timeline will now be the default view for your Page. All Tabs (now called Applications) have been moved to a prominent location just below your cover photo. The Tabs will also now be represented with much larger, attention-grabbing images.


Tip 2: Cover Photo

Pages will now feature a large image at the top of the Timeline. Choose an image that is representative of your brand and experiment a little! Cover photo dimensions are 851 x 315 pixels.
 

Tip 3: Your Profile Picture

This is the image that will be shown next to each of your updates on your wall and in users' news feeds, sponsored stories or ads you run. Choose an image that fits 180 x 180 pixels and also looks good when scaled down to a thumbnail size of 32 x 32 pixels.
 

Tip 4: Policies regarding cover photos

FB states that cover photos CANNOT include:
* Contact information such as URLs, email, mailing address or any information that should go in the 'About' section.
* Price or purchase information such as "50% off" or "Download it at our website."
* References to Facebook features or actions, such as "like" or "Share" or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
* Calls-to-action, such as "Tell your friends" or "Get it now."
* No false, deceptive or misleading information and must not infringe on 3rd parties' intellectual property.
 
Tip 5: Pin Posts

You will be able to "pin" your most important post for a period of up to seven days. This makes it possible for businesses to designate priority material and display it prominently at the top of the Timeline. It's an excellent place for businesses to direct visitors to applications that display sales, contests, open houses and more.


Tip 6: Private Messages 

That’s right! You can now interact with your fans directly via Private Messaging.


Tip 7: Reordering Icons

Below your cover photo are icons that link your photos, likes & apps. By default, your photos will appear in the first spot, but you can change the order of everything else. You can show a maximum of 12 apps so have a think about which you'd like to feature. To re-order the apps, expand the apps menu by clicking the drop-down menu to the right of your Page's apps. Hover over the position where you'd like to place the app & click on the pencil icon that appears. Then choose the app you'd like to swap into that spot from the menu.
 
Tip 8: Edit Images in Your Views & Apps

Use the best images to represent the items in your Views and Apps. To customise the way these apps appear on your page, go to Admin Panel, click Manage and select Edit Page from the dropdown menu. In the Apps section, click Edit Settings for the specific app image (dimensions should be 111 x 74 pixels) and upload the new image. This will enable  you to turn your featured apps into calls-to-action.
 
Tip 9: Publish More Visual Content

The new design places more emphasis on visual content such as images and videos. As these images will now appear larger and more prominently on your page, post your best visual content to your page such as photos, charts, infographics and more.
 
Tip 10: Good to know before you rush off and publish to the new Timeline

If you publish to the new Timeline now, ahead of the 30 March roll-out, you will not be able to revert to your old page. Our advise: Preview your changes. Don't publish it till you're absolutely happy with the look & feel. So get creative. You have till 30 March :)


There is a lot to learn and get used to with the Facebook page design. Feel free to contact us at: info@spinnmedia.com.au   if you have more questions.

Tags: facebook, social media, timeline

What is Google Plus?

February 6, 2012

Filed under: Social Media

According to Google, the new Google+ service is, “Real-life sharing, rethought for the web.”

Aimed at giving the rest of the social media offerings out there a run for its money or fanbase, Google+ brings together all of your friends in one neat package. It lets you easily organize all of your contacts into different groups.

Google+ is made up of the following five features or tools:
Circles
Hangouts
Sparks
Instant Upload
Huddle


Circles
Instead of grouping or sharing your ‘life’ with everyone, you can create different circles for the different types of people in your life. Circles will help you place your groups for friends, family or co-workers, into groups which you choose to share with. A little like creating contact lists in your email address folder. All you do is drag and drop.

Hangouts
You can broadcast to your friends that you're online and ready to chat face to face, and your pals can drop by your "hangout" to video chat with you. So much easier than FaceTime or Skype.

Sparks
Designate your interests in Sparks, and Google+ will collect articles, videos, and photos of the things you love from around the web to read when you're free (like an RSS reader). If you add say, ‘holiday homes’, you’ll receive what Google feels is the most relevant content for that word or phrase.

Instant Upload
You’ll need to download the Google+ app onto your Android phone. You will need to opt in to the Instant Upload tool if you want to upload your pictures. Google won’t start uploading your photos without permission. Then all you do is snap pictures on your phone as your normally would and they magically get uploaded to your Google + account! From there you can share it with a specific person, circle or do whatever you want with your photos, when you next log into your Google+ account.

Huddle
This is the group texting part of Google+. At the moment, you can only access it on Android phones. iPhone users will need to wait until Google releases an iPhone app.


Not on Google+ yet? Drop us a comment below if you’d like an invitation to road test it. We have a few invites we're looking to give away.

Tags: google, google+, social media, hangout, android, iphone, google plus

15 Reasons Why You’re Surfing Facebook!

September 10, 2010

Filed under: Social Media

Do you also find yourself surfing Facebook? Where do you spend most of your time online? Why do you spend time on your favorite social platform? What do you like best or least about Facebook? Pam Moore, on Social Media Today, discusses this and more on her recent blog post. Here’s a complete excerpt:


As I was writing a blog post the other day without thinking I included the words “surfing Facebook”.


Who “woulda thunk” five years ago I would visit Facebook more than the web?  And what is the web anyway? Is the web a website? Nope! Is the web Google?  Nope! Is the web Facebook? Nope! The web is all of the above.  It is the melding of everything we do online.  From widgets, tweets, blogs to music and Facebook.
Why is Facebook consuming people’s time?


I do the same thing everyone else does on Facebook.  I connect with friends via posts, photos and of course business content. I interact and engage with friends, family, co-workers, partners, mentors and even customers. Most importantly, I get new business. Yes, leads!


Many recent new leads have came from Facebook!  Is it because they know my dog, my kids and my hubby? Sure is.


Why do they hug me when we meet face to face for the first time? Why is my time to close the sale window shortening? Because I share who I am and what I am. Either ya’ like me or ya’ don’t!


My thought is yes, I am probably going to tick off some folks who don’t like me. However, the other 95% that decide to stick around will provide me joy and I hopefully will do the same for them!  Social media is bringing to my business the people who want to do business with me. People who have the same values and beliefs as I do. People who value the content I provide.  Wow! What other medium can you connect in such an authentic, deep and meaningful way?


No wonder Facebook is beginning to feel like surfing. We can search for and find whatever we want via a Fanpage, quick search, query of top trends and “likes”.  On one page we can share a photo of our dog and kid, a blog post and invitation to a research conversation on LinkedIn. To me that is power of communication, content and community all in one place.


Yes, we can accomplish some of the same sharing on Google. However, it’s not as intimate.  It’s not as controlled. And most importantly it is not FREE! On Facebook we let people in to who we are are, what we are and what we do on the weekends. Big difference.


Top 15 Reasons Why we Surf Facebook


1. Mass Appeal
More than 500 million users on Facebook. Of the 500 million, 50% logon to Facebook any given day. 700 billion minutes per day are spent on Facebook. Over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events, community pages).  More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums) are shared each month.  *source Facebook.com Press statistics

2. Share
We feel power in sharing our day, our ups and downs, family photos, business wins and life! Life is meant to be shared.  Facebook gives us a way to deepen our connections and engage in our community in a very personal way. The art is learning the balance in sharing enough to engage but not overwhelm. The objective is to leverage sharing for both personal and business satisfaction and success.

3. Simplicity in Sharing & Consuming
Facebook makes it easy to share and consume different types of content such as photos, business content, videos etc.


4. Privacy
We control who sees what (to some degree). We can share a little or a lot. Although Facebook has issues in this space there is still the ability for members to control content sharing more so than Twitter and other platforms.


5. Consume and Filter Content
It’s easy to consume content. Simply open up your Facebook home page or news stream and you have a stream of mostly useless content you can surf all day long! It’s there for the taking and your choice how much you want to consume, at what intervals, what time and in what format.


6. Authenticity
Of course there are people who are experts at living double or triple lifestyles.  However, Facebook makes it a little big more difficult to accomplish the triple lifestyle without triple the work. It’s why they only allow one profile. You are who you are. It’s hard to be someone different at work, church, neighborhood groups and Twitter when they all come together on Facebook.


7. Mobile
Mobility via iPhone, Blackberry and Android keeps us from being bored while waiting at Dr. offices, long lines or on the elliptical for 50 minutes.


8. Supports Narcissist Behavior
Fan pages, like boxes, and comments fuel the narcissist soul. Others have fun watching the narcissist type feed their inner narcissist selves. The rest of us try to keep our narcissist ways under control as we try to keep colleagues, clients and grandma Jenkins happy (partly joking).


9.  Brings out the CIA in all of us
You can spy on past colleagues, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates and the list goes on.


10. More than 140 Characters
Simply put life can not be fully shared in 140 characters. I am one who has developed some ever lasting and real relationships via Twitter. However, those relationships have also grown deeper and stronger on Facebook.


11. Community
It supports community like no other.  From help finding a dog to finding the perfect doctor, pizza place, car battery or meetup group, you’re sure to find a host of solutions with the entry of one simple question as your Facebook status!


12. Engagement
It’s easy to engage. You can comment, one click like a post, add a tag, and the list goes on. You can write a note, import your blog, import your videos.


13. Immediate Feedback
What a great way to see what your friends, partners or customers think of an idea? What do they think of your latest tagline? You can get opinions in less than seconds from your closest friends or Facebook fans. I maximize this benefit on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


14. Historical Snapshot
For many active and engaged Facebook users it offers a summary of their life. It’s becoming the default online photo album without most users ever making such decision.  My kids advise me if a photo I take of them with my iPhone is authorized for Facebook or not. Proof that even children are realizing the audience and the power behind even one Facebook photo upload. I have returned several times to Facebook for an event, a quote I made or something that happened two years ago that now has even more meaning today.  This is by far my favorite part of Facebook.


15. It Makes Ya’ Feel Good
Simply put connecting to your friends, colleagues, family, partners and customers on a daily basis is good for the soul. Facebook makes it easy.


The brands that learn to listen, engage and inspire in social media will be the ones to succeed. Engage folks as people are surfing your content even if you didn’t create it!

Tags: facebook, social media, social, google, blog

Qualities of a Good Social Media Voice

August 9, 2010

Filed under: Social Media

Wikipedia states that: Social Media is an unbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.

Put simply: Social Media is people having conversations online. You need to Listen, Participate, Relinquish Control and Engage! Engage! Engage! Chris Koch's recent post on Social Media Today highlights some key attributes on building and maintaining a strong and powerful social media presence.  


Here is an excerpt from Chris's blog on some qualities that social media voices should have:


(More) Informal  
Social media are designed to elicit conversation, yet most of that conversation happens in written form. That means we need a new standard for ourselves. We should make our writing sound more like the way we speak (when we're at work). One way to judge whether you're being too stiff (or overly casual) is to read your writing aloud before posting it. If it sounds too stuffy, overly long, or overwrought, simplify it. On the other hand, if it sounds like you aren't old enough to have a driver's license, put more thought into it.  

 

Grammatical
Sure, social media are more informal by default, but informal doesn't mean you should sound like an idiot. Indeed, the more personal nature of the communications makes good skills even more important because all the misdeeds can be easily tracked back to their source. It's okay to split an infinitive now and then, but the really obvious stuff-misspellings, misunderstood words, crappy punctuation, and internet shorthand (unless you are really short on space)-reflects poorly on the reputations of the communicators and their companies.

 

Communal
Just as we communicate differently in conversation than we do in writing, we have a different voice with groups than we do with individuals. In most cases in social media, we are speaking to a group. Depending on your reach and focus, the group can be homogenous or incredibly diverse. In B2B, it's likely to be diverse, at least in terms of ages and backgrounds. Your voice should sound reasonable to everyone in that group.
 
Dialectal.We always hear that it's wrong to use a lot of jargon, and in general it is, but only because most B2B marketers are usually trying to reach a general audience of both business and technical people. On the other hand, if you're only trying to reach the techies, jargon may be expected, as marketer Jed Sundwall points out in this excellent presentation, Finding Your Social Media Voice. We need to understand the particular dialects of the audiences we're trying to reach with social media. 

 

Authentic
I'm loathe to use this one because it gets trotted out so often, but social media ups the ante for saying what you mean and meaning what you say at the time you're saying it. In social media, buyers can connect synchronously with you and with their peers, they can react instantly, and they can do so through easily accessible tools like Twitter. Obfuscation used to be a way to buy time in an era when buyers had to write letters to the company president to get their complaints heard (and they had few ways to determine whether others were having the same problems). In social media, obfuscation only brings a swift, often large-scale, backlash. 

 

Original
It's okay to link to news items or interesting blog posts, but chances are that many others have already done the same thing. The strongest social media voices are those that regularly contribute original ideas. Blogs are a great hub for creating and sharing original ideas, because readers can contribute to and refine the thinking.

 

Contextual
Social media are a lot like party conversations. Much depends on how long the conversation has been going on and what has already been said in your absence. The smartest blog comment sounds dumb if the point has already been debated in the comments section. Conversations in social media have a habit of diverging from their original course. Participants need to stop and assess the waters before plunging in. 

 

Relevant
In social media, it isn't just what you say; it's the company you keep. Creating a responsive social media network means focusing on a subject that you know well and sticking to it so that people know what to expect from you. Remember that it's as easy to disconnect from people in social media as it is to connect with them. Lack of relevance is a ticket to deletionville.  

 

Timely
Everybody loves a scoop. Gaining a reputation as the first with the latest news in your chosen subject area increases your relevance among others in your network and helps attract new followers. However, it helps to do a little research before sharing to make sure that the tidbit hasn't been re-tweeted a million times already, or that there hasn't been some change in the issue since you discovered it.  

 

Persistent
Social media voices that appear and then disappear for long intervals create mistrust and apprehension. Was this just a passing fancy? Are you participating just to push messages? Do you have so little say that you needed a month off? The unwritten rule for blogs demands at least a post per week, for example. More than a month and people will begin to delete you from their RSS feeds.  

 

Responsive
Just when we think no one is listening to what we're saying in social media, we're likely to receive a message-often from someone we've never conversed with before. If we ignore these messages, we can hurt the feelings of those involved and lose opportunities to have interesting conversations that could contribute to our social media success. Blog comments, for example, should all receive a response from the blogger, even if it's just one message thanking everyone for their time and good thoughts.  

 

Helpful
Our helpful deeds in social media are often seen by many others who spread the help farther and enhance our reputation. Subject matter experts who answer questions on the Answers section of LinkedIn, for example, can grow their connections and build traffic to their blogs.  

 

Generous
Sharing is the currency of social media. For example, Twitter updates that come with a link to something deeper to read (such as news, opinion, tips, research, and thought leadership) are more likely to be passed on, or retweeted, to others. Rarely do those links lead to paid content. Those who make their content freely available will have many more readers than those who don't. Besides, it makes us feel good. Acts of generosity, it turns out, light up the same primitive, feel-good areas of the brain as sex and food do.
 
Keep your conversations open, honest and real - you'll go far.
Follow us on Twitter: @spinnmedia

Tags: social, social media, communications, blog

5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Online Community

June 25, 2010

Filed under: General

Most individuals I speak to seem to feel that getting involved in online communities equates to having to spend all your time online and besides, how do you determine what works best for you?

Rishad Tobaccowala of VivaKi has developed a useful exercise for figuring out your brand's perceived identity and personality. He suggests you begin by choosing a few key words that best describe your brand, under the following three categories:

1. Niche
What makes your brand different, and what attracts folks to its niche?

2. Voice
How does your brand "express" itself?

3. Story
What story sits behind the formation of your brand and its ongoing role in the marketplace?

Going through this exercise may help sharpen your brand's voice—and boost its social presence. Social Media Consultant, Roderick Low, has outlined below five ways you can easily improve your online community:

1. Make the community prominent
Don’t hide your online community behind a link. Bring it right up to the front page. Anything less, and you aren’t giving your community the respect it deserves. If you are serious about your online community, prove it by giving it serious exposure.

Show that you value the opinions of your members by featuring their content alongside your own editorial content – you are equal partners in this.

This goes further than just proving your commitment to the community. It puts the community in front of eyeballs. A lot of the time, visitors won’t even notice a link to your community – so put it where they can see it if you want them to join and get involved.

2. Keep it simple
You don’t need fancy features and a glamorous site design. Most of the time, these are simply distractions. Keep things simple. There is nothing wrong with basing your community solely on a forum. You don’t necessarily need a full range of ’social networking’ features. People need to be able to communicate – it’s as simple as that. They can do this with a basic forum.

Fancy designs are often just an ego stroke for the organisation that commissioned them. Remember, an online community isn’t about you – it’s about your members. Strip everything back and keep it basic. Your community may not look glamorous, but it will be far more likely to contain activity and member engagement.

3. Tell me why
I come across a lot of online communities that don’t explain or outline their purpose. As crazy as it sounds, there are a lot of people building communities without actually making it clear what the purpose of the community is.

Sometimes this is obvious from the name – but even then, I need to know why I should join your community rather than one belonging to your competitor. Ensure that all visitors to your site know why they should be joining and getting involved in the community. Keep it short, simple, snappy and accurate.

4. Be active
As a community manager, you need to be active in your own online community. You can’t be a matchmaker unless you get to know members of your community. You can’t learn from your members if you don’t know who they are.

Lead by example – get stuck in and enjoy the community. If you aren’t active or if you aren’t enjoying being active, your community has a problem. Fix it.

5. Build relationships at home and away
Some people who contact me stress that they are highly active in their community – in fact, sometimes they are its chief contributor. Of course, a community isn’t a community if there is only one person doing the talking. If this is happening to you, it’s an indicator that you need to be more proactive.

Just because you’ve built an online community doesn’t mean people will flock to it. You need to get out there and find members. Fortunately, that’s never been easier. Your potential members are out there writing blogs, telling the world what they are doing on twitter, and networking on Facebook.

Don’t stalk these potential members, and don’t spam them. Get to know them. Comment on their blogs, provide value. It’s all about what you can do for them – not the other way around.

For more insights and valuable tips & ideas, follow SPINN Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: social media, community, communicate, networking

Small Businesses Shouldn't Take Social Media for Granted

June 15, 2010

Filed under: Social Media

Social Media is everywhere these days. A recent report however shows that when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, social media is still a missed opportunity.


Here’s an excerpt from this post that first appeared in the American Express OPEN Forum for Small Business. The 2010 Business Monitor United States report commissioned by UPS, indicates that in spite of all the positive press that social media gets and all the use cases we’ve seen emerge over the past few years, small business owners are taking social media for granted. When done right, social media can be a valuable source for customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Here are a few reasons to help drive the value home. 



Information is There for the Taking
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the web. Ignoring, avoiding or just not looking at what people are sharing online about your small business or your competitors is just plain lazy.


Now more than ever people turn to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Yelp and a slew of other sites to share information and make it publicly available. As such, there’s a wealth of information that existing customers, future fans and online detractors are putting into the public domain, and there are a plethora of tools to make it easy for you to follow along.


The customer that tweets about a poor experience, the guy that leaves a tip about a venue on Foursquare, or the woman that tweets about being overwhelmed by an event she’s planning, are all real humans sharing real bits of information that if ignored could translate into missed opportunities.


In the case of the person with the poor experience, if it’s your business being discussed, offer to step in and fix the problem. If it’s a competitor, offer to let the person try a comparable product free of charge. When it comes to Foursquare, acknowledge great Foursquare tips, even if they’re not for your own business. If you can help the woman who’s overwhelmed, do it, even if it is just by responding, “is there any way I can help?”


As a small businesses owner, it’s your responsibility to use these bits of public information to build relationships, improve customer service and enhance your products. 



Simple Works
Finding the right way to use social media can be daunting, especially when there are so many examples of big brands pushing the limits of creativity and possibility when it comes to their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare initiatives. Often times the big guys forget that it’s the simplest of gestures that can have the greatest impact. But simple works.


On the simple side of things, just take the time to acknowledge customers that mention you. Did someone tweet about dining at your restaurant? Did they check-in at your venue? Did they share a story about your small business on Facebook? These actions that take place in the public domain are all opportunities to connect with a current or potential customer and make them feel special.  


Responding is easy — a simple “thanks for stopping by,” or “how can we make your next visit better?” tweet can go a long way and even make someone’s day. Yet, it’s something most companies take for granted. People like to be recognized, but often times they’re never presented with an opportunity to associate restaurants, stores and other venues with the people behind him. You can create that opportunity by recognizing their patronage, which in turn should help ensure that they return for a future visit.


Another simple thing you can do is post signage — on your website and in your store — to indicate that you’re social media-friendly. The Express retail chain has their chief marketing officer’s Twitter handle printed on all their bags, which works to reinforce that the company cares about person-to-person connections. Take that idea and apply it to your own business. For that extra touch, make stickers, punch cards or window decals that showcase your small business’s online personality and reinforce that you’re interested in conversations with your customers.



Your Size Works in Your Favor
Starbucks is the perfect example of an early adopter brand that understands social media, and yet their size prohibits them from engaging with every customer that walks in the door.


As a small business, your size is your friend in social media channels. Use your small size as an advantage and respond to each and every person that mentions you. Since you’re working with a smaller customer base, you can also build customer Twitter Lists to separate different categories of customers into groups, which should help you offer more personalized customer service — something the big businesses don’t have the time or resources to support.


Here’s an easy example: Who are your most frequent customers? Make a Twitter List called “Regulars,” and add your regulars on Twitter to it. 


In doing so, you’re associating patronage with prestige. Your efforts could even inspire semi-regular customers to frequent your business more often just so they too can get added to the list. This tactic might also serve as a catalyst for one regular to connect with another, though you could also facilitate customer-to-customer connections with introductory tweets. So if a customer tweets for a recommendation, you could respond with something simple as, “@customer1 good question, I like the cheesecake but @customer2 really loves the custard.”


These types of personal exchanges highlight the advantages afforded to small businesses using social media. Need more information on how you can get started with Social Media? 

Contact us for a free discussion.

Tags: social media, customer, small business, business

6 Tips for Effective Recruiting on Social Media

May 19, 2010

Filed under: General

You’re looking for a STAR employee to fill the shoes of your departing high-flying, results producing Executive. How do you start the recruitment process?  Better yet, where do you start?

Sharlyn Lauby recently posted this article on the American Express Open Forum on how you can use Social Media to your advantage. Here’s the full article:

The goal of recruiting is to find the right person at the right time. Logically, that means one source is never enough. You'll want to tap into diverse mediums to find the best candidates. Social media is no exception. Each platform has its own unique demographic. You'll want to consider that audience when making the decision about which applications to use for your recruiting efforts.

Regardless of the application, there are some common elements of using social media for recruiting. Here are six things to consider:
 

1. Create an online presence that reflects who you are
Having a nice avatar, succinct bio and current contact information will make people want to connect with you. Be sure to organize your social media profiles to provide potential contacts with a better idea of who you are so they have a reason to communicate with you and form a relationship.


"It's about being human", explains Bill Boorman, author of the Recruiting Unblog. "People connect with people, not brands. Connect with everyone because you never know who will make that referral or connection for you."


2. Make the most of your time
A large part of any success with social media is involvement. This is especially true if you want to use social media for recruiting. While mobile applications can help with this, Boorman agrees, "It takes a big investment of time to build a talent community." To target your efforts, he suggests asking people directly which channels they use and looking at what your competitors are doing. "Consider directing your messages to a single point, like a relevant blog or company website."


3. Individualize your approach
At some point, you have to connect with people you don't know and become a part of their conversations. "I actually find it easy," says Chris Havrilla, national recruiting manager for Hitachi Consulting, a global leader in delivering business and IT strategies. "I have found if you communicate with people in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, you can never go wrong."


Havrilla's approach is to connect with people who have a genuine interest in his business and industry. "I follow or connect with people related to that space, ‘listen’ to and learn from the conversations, and participate when appropriate. If you are connecting with someone directly, be ‘individualized’ in your approach – take the time to understand who you are reaching out to and be respectful of their time and attention."


4. Be authentic
Recruiters always want to see the 'real candidate' and in order to do that, they have to be real as well. Amanda Hite, founder and CEO of Talent Revolution Inc., says when it comes to social media: "Remember it's NOT about the tools it's ALL about the relationships."


So don't be afraid to be yourself. Hite adds, "Being the authentic, unapologetic you is totally on trend. But more importantly, when you embrace your own authenticity and stay committed to 'being you' no matter what, you'll attract the kind of clients and employees that do the same and are the best match for you."


5. Share interesting stuff
All work and no play is boring. So sharing news and tidbits of general interest can create what might be the equivalent of "social media small talk," which leads to bigger conversations. Sylvia Dahlby works for SmartSearch, a leading talent acquisition system and recruiting business software solution firm. She works from home and lives in Hawaii. "Before social network sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I belonged to dozens of old-style online newsgroups. Now, I leverage the new social networks much in the same way," Sylvia explains. She says it's still important to interact with others.


One of the things Sylvia mentioned was her Twitter account because she mixes her recruiting knowledge with Hawaii tidbits. "My Twitter account is for personal branding and making connections. I mostly tweet about my work, my product and the recruiting industry during business hours, chat with friends and business associates throughout the day, and throw in a mix of my hobbies and certain interests (such as Hawaiiana). I treat Twitter as my office 'water cooler' or after-hours 'cocktail party' where I can catch the news and buzz from people in various online communities around the world."


6. Focus on substance
If someone directs a question at you via social media, find a way to respond, even if it's to take the conversation offline. "The key is substance," says Steve Browne, executive director of human resources for LaRosa's Inc., a Cincinnati based regional pizzeria with 63 locations. "I'd recommend people using social media for recruiting [focused] on substance and not just resume information. Look at how the candidate is connected in the social media arena, and are they contributing to their profession, or just lurking. If they're engaged online, chances are they would be engaged working for your company."


Many recruiters realize that when it comes to recruiting, social media tools are just that – tools. The real value is in how the tools are used. Havrilla explains, "Social media can give you a great and efficient way to engage with your community – candidates, clients, customers, partners, prospects, etc. – on a very level playing field with the companies you are competing with for talent (or business). The key is to make sure you have the time to invest in to it. At a very basic level this is all about networking. The use of social media tools has greatly enhanced my ability to build, grow, and nurture my network. These tools are not a magic bullet though – to get value from your network, you have to add value to it."

Tags: social media, communicate, conversation, network

7 things to stop doing now on Facebook

May 17, 2010

Filed under: General

Privacy is such an issue these days, especially with the explosion of numerous social media websites that have sprouted over the last few years. I have a soon-to-be thirteen year old who has requested for a Facebook Profile. We’ve made a deal that once she comes of age, she can. We’ve been carefully going through the etiquettes of social media for a few months now and I can only hope that she adheres to the guidelines we’ve established.


For those of you that are still unsure on how to use the medium, here’s a guide that was first published by ConsumerReports.org in an article that appeared in the June 2010 Consumer Reports Magazine.

 

1. Using a weak password
Avoid simple names or words you can find in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. A password should have at least eight characters. One good technique is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of a word, such as this variant on the word "houses": hO27usEs!


2. Leaving your full birth date in your profile
It's an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you've already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the Info tab, then on Edit Information. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all.


3. Overlooking useful privacy controls
For almost everything in your Facebook profile, you can limit access to only your friends, friends of friends, or yourself. Restrict access to photos, birth date, religious views, and family information, among other things. You can give only certain people or groups access to items such as photos, or block particular people from seeing them. Consider leaving out contact info, such as phone number and address, since you probably don't want anyone to have access to that information anyway.


4. Posting your child's name in a caption
Don't use a child's name in photo tags or captions. If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.


5. Mentioning that you'll be away from home
That's like putting a "no one's home" sign on your door. Wait until you get home to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was and be vague about the date of any trip.


6. Letting search engines find you
To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to the Search section of Facebook's privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure the box for public search results isn't checked.


7. Permitting youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised
Facebook limits its members to ages 13 and over, but children younger than that do use it. If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends. Use your e-mail address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities.

"What they think is nothing can actually be pretty serious," says Charles Pavelites, a supervisory special agent at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. For example, a child who posts the comment "Mom will be home soon, I need to do the dishes" every day at the same time is revealing too much about the parents' regular comings and goings.

Wish me luck!

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights and updates.

Tags: privacy, facebook, social media, profile, passwords

Make Video Testimonials Work For You

May 12, 2010

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in. While we don’t produce videos, we know businesses that do and would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers

Give your brand a Karma check with social media site

March 25, 2010

Filed under: General

The world’s biggest brands are under the spotlight with the launch of a new Australian social media website which ranks good and bad brands based on categories such as how they treat their customers, the environment and their employees. As reported in B&T today:

Launched yesterday, Brandkarma aggregates comments on 300 iconic brands providing each with a score. At the heart of the platform is the Brandkarma flower which has five petals focusing on how the brand treats its customers, employees, investors, suppliers and the planet. Users enter comments about one of the five areas and grade the brand with a colour from bad (red) to good (green). The colours are then reflected in the relevant flower petal, depending on the number of responses.

Brands featured on the site - which include Google, Apple, Tesco, Toyota, Nokia, McDonald’s and Nestle among others - can also be compared on the five criteria and overall ranking score. The site, which is currently in beta testing, was designed to help people make better brand choices as well as influence brand behaviour for good.


Increasingly people are understanding there are consequences around the things they buy, and not all brands are made equal. Most people want to do the right thing, if they knew what it was, and they knew where to start and it didn’t cost them much money. And finally people increasingly rely on friends, family, colleagues and strangers more than they rely on business leaders, governments, NGOs and experts and certainly marketing. Brandkarma is a way to pull those things together.

It represents the ever changing dynamics between the five key stakeholder groups which are customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the planet. It is all five of these that gives you an indication of the brand’s karma.

Users need to register at the site www.brandkarma.com where they can fill in their profile details. News feeds about the brands are also included and users who are active are ranked on how much they “Doo” or contribute on the site, enabling them to attain “Super Doo’d” status.

Brandkarma will not moderate comments unless they are flagged by other users.

Tags: brandkarma, customers, social media

10 Commandments For Effective Online Social Networking

December 3, 2009

Filed under: Social Media

A 10-step game plan or practical guidelines that will make you a better member of the social-networking communities in which you participate. Full details of this excerpt can be found in author Paul Chaney’s "The Social Media Handyman" (www.thedigitalhandshake.com ).

1. Pull, Don't Push
One of the first lessons you will learn very quickly when engaging in social media is that old-school marketing tactics don't work. Don't come out of the gate pushing your products or services. New tools require new rules.

For example, don't respond to new Twitter followers with a "Thanks for following. Visit my website for a free... [insert promotional message]."

Such a response is a dead giveaway that you are new to social media and do not yet understand that it's a "pull" medium, not a "push" medium. If I want to review your credentials, I'll read your bio. (You did complete your bio, right?)
 

2. Win the Right to Be Heard
Social-media engagement is a conversation, and participation in the community is required. In fact, you might say that participation is the fifth P of marketing. (The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion.)


Your value as a participant is judged by the value you provide to the community as a whole. Be a "glory hog," and you'll garner little attention. Share freely, and you will become a respected member.
 

3. Content Is Still King, but Conversation Is Queen (and Conversion Is the Prince)
Nothing beats well-written, informative, entertaining content in all its forms: blog posts, tweets, videos, podcasts, images, webinars, or whitepapers. Place yourself in a position of being a knowledgeable expert (assuming you are, of course). Community is the context.

Moreover, keep content and commerce separate. Never the twain shall meet is a good rule of thumb. Editorial and advertorial content should be distant kin, if related at all.
 

4. Authenticity and Transparency Are Social-Networking Cornerstones
The words "authenticity" and "transparency" may seem trite, but I believe they remain the cornerstones of this new media-marketing paradigm. Be real. Be open. Be honest. Admit mistakes when you make them.

 
5. You Don't Have to Be on Every Social Network

It's impossible to maintain an active presence on every social network, and you don't have to. You do have to be where your customers are, however. They expect you to be there.
 

6. Give, and You Shall Receive
Having an attitude of helpfulness goes a long way toward establishing a credible name for yourself in social-media circles. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," said St. Francis of Assisi. "People don't care that you know, until they know that you care" is how I put it.

"Lose control of your marketing," is how author David Meerman Scott puts it. Give ideas and information away freely, with no strings attached. Be willing to give up control of the marketing message (as if you could hold it close to the vest in the first place, given the current Web 2.0 landscape).
 

7. Don't Throw the Marketing Baby out With the Bath Water
The rules of marketing still apply to social media—well, most of the rules, anyway. Social media is another channel to build your brand and market your message. It's not a panacea, and it's not a replacement for other forms of advertising and marketing.

I have learned that marketing has room for integration. Email and search remain the areas where most marketers spend their top dollars, and for good reason: Email and search both perform very well. All forms of marketing are interrelated, and social media is finding its place in the spectrum.
 

8. Social Media Is a Mindset, Not Just a Toolset
You have to incorporate the essence of social media into your thinking. Don't just change your toolset (tactics); change your mindset (strategy).
 

9. Be Yourself, Whoever That May Be
A good friend of mine has a mantra that she follows in every respect: "Be yourself." (It's even her personalized license plate.) No better advice can be given, whether or not you engage in social media. One thing is certain: You can't be who you are not. (See Step 4.)

Use your photo as your avatar and your name as your handle. That's not to say you shouldn't have an identity tied to your brand. It's just that in social media people would rather relate to and build trust with other people than with brands. It's a trust economy, after all.

 
10. Social Media Is Not a Religion
Although it does come with a set of largely unwritten rules (sorry, I don't know of any stone tablets that have been brought down from Mt. Sinai), social media is not a religion, no matter how hard guys like me try to make it one. There is room for experimentation. In fact, experimentation is the only way the medium will grow.

Tags: social media, marketing, market, brands, customers, video

Facebook Is A Business Tool

November 18, 2009

Filed under: Social Media

The following article is based on an excerpt from Paul Chaney’s  "The Social Media Handyman" , author of The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media.

Much the same way a power company connects homes and businesses with electricity, Facebook is a "social utility" designed to facilitate connections between people as well as businesses. Accordingly, it can be highly useful as a business tool. This article addresses various ways that businesses can market using Facebook.

Facebook Public Profile
A Facebook Public Profile (aka a Facebook Page) is an ideal place for businesses to establish a beachhead within the social network. It is, also, one of the most overlooked.

I've noticed that many companies use other parts of the platform (Groups and personal profiles, in particular) to set up a presence, but they never bother to create a Public Profile.

One possible reason may be that Facebook lists Public Profiles under the advertising category, which may lead people to believe it is a premium feature. It's not. Businesses can set up a Public Profile at no cost.

Facebook Public Profiles, which mimic user profiles in design and function, allow users to express their support of your business by adding themselves as fans. They can write on your Wall, upload photos and videos, and join other fans in expressing opinions on topics introduced in discussion groups.

You can send regular updates to fans, and, unlike personal profiles, which are limited to 5,000 members, the number of fans you can have on a Public Profile is unlimited. In addition, you can set up a business page without having to provide a personal profile.

One of the best reasons to have a Facebook Public Profile is that it can be indexed by search engines. That is no small consideration, because Facebook is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the Internet.
If getting noticed on Google and other engines is an important part of your online-marketing strategy, then using Facebook Public Profile makes perfect sense. After you set up a Facebook Public Profile for your business, make it your base of operations from which all other forays into the network extend.
 

Facebook Events
Another useful Facebook feature, one that can be launched directly from your Facebook Public Profile, is Facebook Events. With it, you can let fans and others know about upcoming events and activities your business will be hosting.

A restaurant can use Facebook Events to promote appearances by musical acts. A B2B company can promote upcoming webinars or workshops. Nonprofit and civic groups can enlist support for fund-raising activities. Remember, activities that Facebook members engage in are reported in the newsfeed, so word about the events can spread quickly and virally.
 

Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups allow you to create or participate in as many as 200 affinity- or geography-based groups. Each can serve as a viral channel for extending your presence within Facebook, and each can be used as "fishing pools" to help you find prospects and build relationships.

Before you set up your own group, however, participate in two or three groups to learn how they operate. As with Facebook Events, use Facebook Groups to supplement your business page, not act as a substitute for it.
 

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads resemble Google AdSense ads in that they are primarily text based, but they do allow inclusion of a small graphic.

You can opt to include Social Actions, which are stories about a user's friends that are related to and displayed alongside your advertisement. Whenever a user takes an action associated with the ad, that user's avatar and screen name will appear along with the ad on the friend's profile pages. That result implies endorsement, so use the component wisely.

The problem with using ads on Facebook Ads or other social networks is that members rarely click on the ads. The average click-through rate for Facebook Ads is estimated to be an abysmal 0.008%. That means for every 10,000 times an ad appears, it is clicked on only 80 times.

People don't visit social-network sites to view advertising; they visit to be social. Still, Facebook Ads provide another way to extend your presence on the site, so they may be worth considering.
 

Facebook Apps
One of the first things you'll notice when you begin participating in Facebook is the bevy of widgets (what Facebook refers to as "applications," or "apps" for short).

The apps, created by third-party developers, number into the scores of thousands and cover every conceivable category, from games to music to travel to just plain fun (and just plain stupid).

It's easy to get caught up in the hype, but sooner or later "app fatigue" sets in. Some applications can be used to promote your business inside Facebook. One way to do that is by developing branded applications, or "appvertisements," that connect your company and the people you wish to reach in a more useful, meaningful way.

For example, Buddy Media, a company that develops branded applications, has launched dozens of campaigns for leading brands. Its data shows measurable success in engaging users.

"In particular, users spent an average of 2 minutes and 35 seconds engaged with our branded applications per visit, or 75 times greater than the time consumers spend interacting with traditional banner ads and five times greater than the time spent watching a typical TV commercial," said Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow.

You don't need to develop applications yourself. You can incorporate many of the business-oriented applications already available in the applications directory, such as business cards, networked blogs, and testimonials, to help promote your business.

It's worth looking through the business category to see which applications might be useful for your business.
 

Facebook Lexicon
Lexicon is Facebook's answer to Google's Zeitgeist. It is a tool you can use to spot and compare trends inside the network.

In Lexicon, you input single words or two-word combinations and compare as many as five strings per query to mine and analyze millions of Facebook Wall posts.

The results are returned as a variety of graphs and charts. For marketing professionals, the results gleaned can provide valuable insight into what's on the minds of Facebook users on a daily basis.

Lexicon pulls only aggregate information, and the privacy of its members is never violated.
 

Facebook Share
Facebook Share is a small button or hyperlink you can add to your website that lets visitors share the site with their friends on Facebook. Essentially, it's a way to drive traffic. Facebook Share is easy to install, but it does require a minimal knowledge of HTML.
 

Facebook Connect
Facebook Connect is the next evolution of the Facebook platform. It provides a way for members to log in to other websites using their Facebook account and "connect" their Facebook identity, friends, and privacy settings to those sites.

For sites that use it, Facebook Connect means never having to create another online profile. You take your online identity with you wherever you go.

To better explain how Facebook Connect works, let me cite as an example Kudzu.com, a website that aggregates user reviews and ratings on local businesses.

You can log in to Kudzu using your Facebook account, and from there you can interact with all your Facebook friends. When you write a review for a restaurant, for example, you'll have the option to publish that story on Facebook, where your friends can see it.

For business owners and marketing professionals, two aspects of Facebook Connect are important:
• First, Facebook, once a walled garden, is now open to the entire Web via third-party sites. And when we're talking about third-party sites, we could be talking about those you own.

• Second (and this could be the most important factor for you), Facebook Connect is not just a registration system but a marketing channel that comes complete with a built-in audience of multiplied millions, some of whom may find their way to your door.

Facebook Connect does require a slightly more extensive knowledge of HTML and programming, but implementing Connect should not be difficult with the assistance of the many Facebook application developers available.
 

Personal Profile
In social media, people relate better to other people than to brands. Face(book) it: We like to do business with people we know and trust.

An ideal scenario is to have a brand or company presence via the means outlined above, and to supplement and extend that business presence with a personal one.

Though your company can create a Facebook Public Profile or ad without creating a personal profile, there are many reasons to have a personal presence: to network with colleagues and peers, to find business contacts, to build business relationships, to grow your personal brand, to target your niche audience, to increase traffic to your website, to enhance your Google rankings, and so much more!

Having a personal profile is a way to extend that digital handshake and get to know people in a more casual, nurturing environment where you can make friends.
 

Conclusion
For many reasons, Facebook can be used effectively as a tool for business. Start by setting up both a personal profile and a Public Profile (Fan Page) to showcase your business.

Consider running some ads to drive attention to your Page. Although they may not result in loads of clicks, at least they are inexpensive. Judiciously and cautiously leverage your network of friends, encouraging them to become fans and to invite others. (In other words, don't overload them with invitations.)

What benefits can be accrued? Quite a few: brand awareness, personal engagement with your customers and prospects, a network that allows fans to easily and quickly share your message, and inexpensive advertising to boot. What's not to like?

Tags: social media, relationships, facebook, apps, business tool, engagement, customers

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet

August 6, 2009

Filed under: Social Media

Twitter is the latest free social-networking and micro-blogging craze that enables its users to send and read messages in up to140 characters. It is based on a very simple question: What are you doing? 

With more than 37 million people a month visiting www.twitter.com  it’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and let them know what you’re up to and where you are. Many businesses use Twitter to broadcast their company’s latest news and blog posts, interact with their customers, or to enable easy internal group Communication.

According to www.twitaholic.com  Hollywood heartthrob Ashton Kutcher has a staggering 3 million followers in just 7 months. Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears, CNN Breaking News, Oprah Winfrey and Barrack Obama feature well, too.

There is now a slew of Twitter-friendly applications to enrich your Twitter experience and it keeps growing by the day! According to www.squidoo.com  “Twitter applications can be called by different names. They are sometimes called "twitter tools", "twitter add-ons" and the likes. But whatever the name they are called, they are simply websites which have built-in scripts that complement Twitter.”  Squidoo has listed 275 Twitter applications which you can read about by clicking here. Also watch a YouTube video on how you can get started on Twitter.

Here is a quick review of some of nifty Twitter apps: 

www.tweetbeep.com 
Tweetbeep provided by Twitter lets you know whenever someone else tweets about you or about your blog. Much like Google Alerts for Twitter, it provides hourly alerts whenever a stranger or a friend of yours mentions your name in his posts and conversation. 


www.twitpic.com
Great way to share your photos on Twitter. You can log into Twitpic using your Twitter username and password. Upload your picture(s), include text and your tweet will go out with a link to the image. How cool is that?


www.tweetlater.net
TweetLater allows you to schedule your Tweets over time.  This would be good for Tweets where you are not necessarily trying to interact with others such as market updates or news bites. TweetLater will also send you an email with your replies and messages so you can respond quickly and appropriately.


www.tweetworks.com
Tweetworks is designed to make micro-blogging more useful for people and businesses. It is based on the simple premise that people like to talk about stuff with other people. And it is the stuff (ideas, questions, politics, sports, arts and so on) that brings people together and around which they form community.

You can create and participate in groups, public or private. Plus the conversations you have in the groups are threaded so you can follow the discussion AND you can choose whether or not your conversations get pushed out to your twitter stream for all your followers to see.

So the question is: What are you doing?

Tags: social media, social, twitter, blogging, twitter tools

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