Social Monkey Blog
The world of Social Media Marketing continues to grow, change and develop at an alarming rate. This amazing infographic from Buddy Media shows just how complicated things are, so much so that they even missed off Pinterest!
Even those of us who work in and with social media find it a continuous challenge to keep up-to-date with changes and developments to ensure that we are making the most of platforms, tools and applications for ourselves and our clients.
If you want to start using social media for marketing your organisation this little guide might help to keep things simple:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are still in the lead when it comes to social media marketing.
Don’t spread yourself thinly, choose a couple of platforms to set-up and engage your organisation from. Twitter is most effective for business-to-business marketing, as is LinkedIn. Facebook is more effective for business-to-consumer marketing. YouTube is only worth investing time in if you have the ability and drive to make and share good quality video content regularly.
To Blog or not to Blog?
Simple answer is YES! Be it a blog that is integrated into your website (helps to push traffic), a WordPress blog or something simpler like tumblr. Part of any social media marketing plan should be a content strategy and doing a weekly blog, or regularly sharing pictures or videos on a blog is the best way to do this.
As with any effective marketing strategy, you need a structured plan for your social media content. This will also help to stop you feeling that you have nothing to talk about (especially in the early days) and increase engagement. See previuos post: The Importance of having a Social Media Strategy and Planned Content
Have fun and enjoy it!
This is SOCIAL media marketing! It is not about pushing the same old, dry message week in week out. TALK to your fans/followers, share their content and make new friends. Social media marketing is all about engagement and sharing and in doing so you will have promoted yourself and what you do without even knowing it!
Branch Out is a free Facebook application that allows users to create a professional profile and network and is, effectively, a direct competitor to LinkedIn.
It launched two years ago but has now reached over 25 million users so is starting to cause interest (still a long way off of LinkedIn’s 150 million users though!).
What Branch Out has over LinkedIn though is access to the 850 million current Facebook users who simply have to accept the application’s permissions to start using it and connecting.
Once the application is installed, setting up a profile is very similar to that on LinkedIn. Then connecting with other users is as simple as going through your own friends list, and friends of friends.
LinkedIn is, undoubtedly, the leader in social networking when it comes to creating a professional network online. However, it can come across as a bit stuffy and old-fashioned. Branch Out, by its association with Facebook and its design, has a much fresher feel and gives young professionals who already connect with acquaintances on Facebook the opportunity to do this in a more structured way.
I would always recommend that people are very careful with their Facebook profiles by operating on the highest level of privacy settings and only accepting friend requests from people they know. I am still shocked by how many Facebook profiles are set-up as businesses and organisations instead of using pages!
Branch Out gives you the opportunity to ‘spring clean’ your Facebook profile by using it to connect with those in your network who are more acquaintances than friends.
Social Media Etiquette, or SMEtiquette as it shall now be known, is as crucial to you/your business being well received as etiquette is in a face-to-face situation.
As with everything, different situations/mediums/platforms carry their own ‘rules’. So here as some around SMEtiquette to keep you in favour with your followers, connections or fans.
Please and Thank You
Yes, social media is on the whole a more relaxed environment to communicate in but that doesn’t mean that rudeness is tolerated. If you are asking for help with a problem, or for something to be shared say ‘please’ and if a follower/fan acts upon your request then thank them!
Sharing content is the life blood of all social media platforms but if you’re only ever sharing your own you will be seen as selfish and potentially lose fans/followers. The recommended ratio is that you share approximately 3 times as much of others’ content as you do your own.
However, only share other content that will add value to your audience and don’t bombard them with what could be seen as SPAM.
The invisible account
There is nothing more frustrating than following/liking and trying to engage with an individual or organisation in social media and receiving no response/information.
If you have a presence on a social media platform then make sure you check it EVERY DAY and respond to any comments/mentions.
We are all people!
The facelessness of social media platforms can often lead to individuals being braver then they would be in a face-to-face situation and saying something spiteful or disparaging. If you don’t like what someone is sharing then unfollow them! It is not okay to respond in a negative way and will only reflect badly on you.
However, if the content is sexist, racist or illegal then do not hesitate in reporting them to the platform owners. Facebook and Twitter are usually very hot in responding to complaints and barring users.
Remember behind every Tweet or Update is a person!
The great thing about Twitter is that it has been kept simple but given the freedom for many tools and applications to be created around it. The key is choosing to use the ones that have the right fit for you.
As a starting point these are some favourites:
Hootsuite is a social media dashboard, similar to TweetDeck. The preference I give to Hootsuite is purely personal – the layout and design is best suited to how I like to view things.
There is a free version of Hootsuite that allows you to have one person as an administrator and upload up to five different social media accounts. You can also upgrade to various professional packages that allow you to collate reports and have multiple administrators.
The main reason I use Hootsuite though is for its scheduling abilities. This is particularly useful with Twitter where it is common to post the same message multiple times over different days to try and ‘catch’ followers’ attention (see Tweetstats for the best times to Tweet).
This is a great tool that does what it says on the tin. It gives you statistics specifically related to a Twitter account. The part of it I get most use from is the graph that shows you when you followers are most active as this then gives a great indication as to the best times to Tweet.
It is also good for gathering statistics about who has retweeted and replied to accounts which helps with reporting.
There are many link shortening sites but bit.ly is one that has been around for quite a while and is simple to use. It is a great tool for Twitter where you are restricted on characters and has the added bonus of giving you the statistics relating to how many times the link has been clicked on.
This is another great little tool to help with Twitter. You can set up Twilerts quickly and easily for free for any word or subject. You can use it to track tweets about your organisation, tweets relating to what your organisation does or competitors. It can get a bit overwhelming but it great to use when you are setting up and growing a Twitter account to see what else is ‘out there’.
As I said there are many, many tools out there to help you to manage and monitor Twitter – it is really a case of trying them out and seeing what works best for you.
The key to any successful social media strategy is in sharing good, relevant content.
This should be a combination of your own original content, either via images that you create or capture or through a blog, article, infographic or video. This will help to spread the message about what you do and also position you as a professional in your field. It can also help to push traffic to your website, blog, gallery or wherever you are keen for people to ‘land’.
Alongside this you should be regularly sharing the content of others. Social media relies on and is designed for sharing. By spreading the message of others you are helping to facilitate this and engaging on that platform. This should be a selfless act of sharing content that you find interesting and hope your fans/followers will find relevant. In turn others will share your content though and help to spread your message.
You should not be afraid or precious about sharing your content or others sharing it for you. This is what social media is all about. The days of controlling a message and being afraid of it getting into the ‘wrong hands’ are long gone. If you want to be successful in social media and use it to market yourself or your business you need to embrace this new way of thinking and working.
As of 30th March all Facebook brand pages will be automatically switched over to the new timeline format. This layout is very similar to the format we have now, hopefully, all gotten used to on our individual Facebook pages.
If you haven’t updated your organisations page yet these are the things you need to change/look at updating:
1) Cover Photo
The most important thing to do is upload a cover photo. The dimensions to work to are 850px (width) by 315px. This space is a real opportunity for you to showcase your organisation – it could be that you use a nice photo or have a graphic specifically designed.
2) Application Icons
Under the cover photo there are icons that link to your applications. Only four are on display permanently (you can use the arrow key to view all). ‘Photos’ is ‘stuck’ in number one spot but make sure that you move the others around so that the next three that are most important are constantly displayed on your page.
3) Highlight Posts
Clicking on the star that is displayed in the top right hand corner of a post will highlight it and permanently make it full width on your timeline. Use for posts that were important or special in some way to highlight them.
4) Pin Posts
Clicking on the Edit pen that is displayed in the top right hand corner of a post will give you the option to ‘Pin’ it. This means that it will stay at the top of your timeline for a week, or until you ‘Pin’ another post. Great for making sure those important messages are on permanent view.
5) Review and Update Timeline
This change is a great opportunity to go back through your timeline and remove anything that isn’t on brand or now seems inappropriate and add in any important milestones.
There are other changes that make it easier to manage pages as an administrator and the ability to receive and send direct messages to fans but as a priority the above areas should be looked at before the big switchover on the 30th March!
Whether your organisation is using social media or not, if you have a major incident you will be – even if you don’t know it!
Twitter, especially, is well used and recognised as a form of news feed. If your organisation has a major incident e.g. building blow up, product recall or someone die on your premises, you can be pretty much assured that it will be all over Twitter in a matter of hours.
So how can you make sure that you are doing all you can to include this new form of communication in your Crisis Public Relations planning?
1. Be there already..
Make sure that your Marketing and PR strategy already includes having a presence on, and understanding of, the main social media platforms. Currently these would be thought of as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube , LinkedIn and Google+. If you are already engaging with and have relationships on these forums then it will be easier for you to respond to and deal with any issues there.
Use Google Alerts, Twilerts and other tools to monitor your organisation in the social media and online sphere, so that you are automatically alerted if a conversation starts up or comment is made about you.
3. Don’t be afraid and act quickly
Social media culture is very different from traditional media. You don’t have time to hang-up on the journalist, pull a team together, write a statement and get it signed-off. You need to be confident enough in your position and knowledge of the organisation to quickly decide on an update, check it off with someone in authority and get it out. Even if it just says something like: ‘We are aware of the [issue] and are working hard to…, we will be updating regularly.’
4. Keep the conversation going
Once the initial crisis is over and you have managed to keep your fans and followers up-to-date with information, you then have time to be more considered. Get the CEO to make a short film in response to the crisis, post it and share it. Keep on engaging and sharing good content to all your new fans and followers! The saying goes that: ‘All publicity is good publicity’ – suddenly your brand is all over social media, maybe initially, for the wrong reasons but you should have been able to turn it around and use the opportunity to build brand awareness.
The main thing is not to stick your head in the sand. Act quickly and be as open and honest as possible, responding on the platforms where the information is being shared.
If you feel that you don’t have the expertise in-house to deal with these forms of communication in a crisis then consider employing a social media agency to help you.
Update: Since writing this Pinterest has changed its Terms of Service
Pinterest is a visual online sharing facility.
It launched in closed beta in March 2010 but has since opened itself up to the ‘general public’, but only by invitation after a request is made, and then the account has to be linked to a Facebook or Twitter account.
It has grown in popularity this year and, according to comScore, had 11.7 million unique users in January. The main reason it has really started to pique interest though is through its ability to drive traffic. In January it drove more referral traffic to retailers’ websites than LinkedIn, YouTube or Google+…
Infographic courtesy of modea.com via mashable.com
At the moment it has a very warm, cosy feel to it. Its users are predominantly female and the content shared tends to be images of art, fashion, nice places and nice ‘things’. It has great potential for those who are in the creative industries as it is a platform for sharing ideas and thoughts in the form of images and pictures. It removes the need for over explanation and is good forum for those who ‘think in pictures’.
‘By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs [owners of Pinterest] a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.’
This statement, understandably, is putting some potential users off as it implies that, for example, if an artist posts an image of one of their works then that image could be used by Pinterest for commercial gain.
With their popularity, and numbers, growing (Facebook currently has over 800 million users worldwide) they are a real alternative to spreading your message on the, often very expensive, traditional media channels.
Charities, more than any other organisations, normally have very little budget for advertising. One of the reasons being that, even though they need to compete for the donors’ pound, they don’t feel comfortable using other donors’ pounds to do this.
Traditional media channels, such as television, radio and newspaper, are often put out of the reach of charities because of this reason. However, setting up and using social media to communicate only costs time. Even if charities employ the use of a social media agency they are unlikely to be charged the full rate and it would be a lot less than paying for advertising in traditional media.
The main reason that social media works well for charities though is that it is all about engagement, and those who support charities want to feel they are engaged and part of that charity. So setting your charity up on Facebook, Twitter and maybe even putting some short films on YouTube will invite your supporters in and once they have connected with you, talk to them, tag them and keep them up-to-date with what you are doing – they will feel included, valued and keep on supporting you.
2012 is going to see social media develop and grow even more. No longer the preserve of geeks and teenagers, social media is now recognised as form of marketing that is being used readily by big corporations and small businesses to spread their messages.
Organisations can no longer just dip their toes in and ‘have a go’ at social media. To have an impact and credible presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter they need a cohesive social media strategy and plan for content.
These are some tools you can use and things to consider when creating such a plan:
1. Review your general marketing/PR activity for the year. Is there anything that lends itself to being talked about solely, or heavily just through your social media channels e.g. participation in a recognised event, launch of a new product, partnering with other organisations?
2. Decide where you are looking to push traffic to from any activity. Your blog, your website, a bespoke website/landing page or another social media channel.
3. Use all activity as an opportunity to gain more fans/followers and tag and engage with other organisations.
4. Look up what national days/weeks are planned for the year: http://projectbritain.com/specialdays.htm
Do any ‘fit’ with your organisations activities/products? If so plan some activity to coincide with them and then you can tag any tweets/updates and become part of the trending topic that will inevitably happen to mark the national day/week.
5. Continually monitor your feeds and trending topics to see if there is anything relevant to your organisation that you can hook into.
6. Use photos and video regularly as part of updates and encourage fans to upload photos and videos and tag you in them. In general an update with a link will encourage 37% engagement whilst and update with a video will encourage 45% engagement (source: Eloqua).
7. Consider running a competition (being careful to abide by the rules for the platform you are running it on). Even a simple competition such as giving something away when you reach, say 500 followers on Twitter can increase engagement and reach.
All activity should have the objective of raising your organisations profile, spreading key messages and engaging.
If this all seems a bit daunting you can always employ the expertise of a social media agency to help you with this stage and set you on the path to being active and engaging in the world of social media.
- Melanie on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Keith Osborn on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work - Social Monkey on Social Media Workshops
- Social Networking - Why Face-to-Face is still important on Norfolk Tweetup
- Melanie on Norfolk Tweetup