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.
Facebook pages are designed for companies, brands and organisations to use to have a presence on Facebook and communicate with their followers.
You ‘like’ a Facebook page rather than becoming friends with it and in doing so become a ‘Fan’. This means that anything that the page posts will be seen in fans feeds but they can’t be messaged directly and the page cannot see the individuals profile.
The additional functionality that Facebook pages do have is Insights – which allow page owners to see a breakdown of the demographics of their fans, tabs clicked on and much more – great for marketing purposes.
These are some tips for setting up and maintaining a successful Facebook page:
1. Make sure you categorise your page correctly.
2. Upload a good quality picture that represents your organisation (normally a logo) as your profile picture.
It needs to be a maximum of 180 pixels wide and up to 540 pixels in height.
3. When you reach 25 fans customise your URL.
4. Update your status three to four times a week.
5. Upload photos and video to increase engagement.
6. ‘Like’ other pages and share their content/engage with them.
7. Incentivise people to like your page by running an offer with a customised landing page for fans that
gives them a discount code.
8. Use Facebook adverts to publicise your fan only offer and to drive people to like your page.
9. Have postcards/posters made or a simple line on the bottom of letters that says something like: Become a
Fan at www.facebook.com/social.monkeey to receive….
10. Link to your page from your website/email footers.
Facebook operates in Open Source so the possibilities for customisation and using your page as a marketing tool go a lot further than this, although at this point you might look to get some advice and support from a social media agency, but these are some basics to get things started.
In the run up to Christmas pubs, bars, clubs and alcohol brands will be ramping up their social media campaigns. However, some caution does need to be given as to how sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used to promote the consumption of alcohol.
From 30th September 2011 a set of common principles has been set by the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). These are not law, but following these best practice guidelines will ensure that your campaign can not be called into dispute.
1) Pages relating to or promoting alcohol must be set to only allow those who are 18+ to become a fan.
2) Any inappropriate content posted by users must be removed within 48 hours.
3) Facebook adverts must only be targeted at those who are 18+
4) Avoid using ‘sponsored stories’ adverts on Facebook as you have no control over what images are used.
5) Don’t upload images of anyone who appears to be under 18 (think 25).
6) Have a link to a responsible drinking message somewhere on the site.
If you are in any doubt seek the advice of a social media agency, who can best advise on what you can and can’t do and how to adhere to the best practice guidelines.
Whilst recently talking to a friend and business acquaintance about plans for a joint training seminar she made a very good point, her words pretty much were:
“You can’t afford not to ‘do’ social media – that is where everyone is and if you don’t have a presence you are potentially missing out on getting in front of that audience.”
Helen Bedeau, Ask MK Ltd
Okay, it is not where everyone is but the user stats are pretty impressive:
Facebook has over 800 million active users worldwide.
Twitter has over 100 million active users worldwide.
Google+ already has over 100 million people signed up.
The thing is that, compared to other forms of advertising, social media is fairly inexpensive. If you have the knowledge and expertise to get set-up, build fans or followers and engage with them yourself all it will cost is your time (although that can be quite a lot of time..). Even if you employ a social media agency to help you, you are talking costs in the hundreds of pounds rather than the thousands.
Having a presence in social media will build brand awareness, push traffic to your website and bring in new contacts and customers. People no longer want marketing messages shouted at them from all directions from companies they have no interest in. They want to use social media to choose who they follow and therefore who they want to receive information from.
If you’re still asking yourself whether you should ‘do’ social media the answer is a definite yes – I can almost guarantee your competitors are…
After a quiet launch in June by invite only, Google+ is now open to all and has also launched the ability for companies and organisations to set-up brand pages.
Google+ has reached 40 million users in the short time it has been live. Yes it is still a long way off of Facebook’s 800 million, but it is owned by Google, who also own YouTube. 66% of searches in US are done on Google – this major web presence and ability to drive traffic has huge potential in making Google+ brand pages very appealing to businesses.
Google will have to be careful not to flout fairness laws but it would be difficult for the search engine not to push pages in one of its own sites up the search rankings wouldn’t it?
These cross-web affiliations are the key to making Google+ a success. From a marketing point of view the appeal of having a brand presence on a social media platform that can pull upon tools such as Google Analytics for data analysis and have a direct influence on search and sharing capabilities is very alluring.
Alongside this, for the consumer, Google+ is pretty user friendly and not majorly dissimilar from Facebook (What is Google+ and should my organisation be using it). So mass migration of users over to it is not an unlikely prospect.
The only downsides at the moment are that there is no ability to run adverts on the platform to push traffic to pages and there doesn’t seem to be the ability for pages to like pages. I am sure thought that with time these, and many other facilities, will be developed and added.
Yes Facebook and Twitter are still increasing users but in this age we are always looking for the next big thing and Google+’s ease of use and links to the biggest search engine in the world will make it a big player on the social media scene.
As social media has started to emerge as a discipline it is having trouble finding where it belongs. There are agencies that deal specifically with social media but often it sits within the offerings of a PR agency or web agency or in-house department. But where does it really fit?
Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) are simply tools that provide a method of communicating a message. You could argue that Marketing, PR and Web all do the same – but in different ways.
Is it a form of Marketing?
Traditional marketing is about an organisation deciding on how they want sell a product and using various tools (TV, newspapers, radio) to spread that message as widely and as many times as possible – hoping that it might fall on the right ears and that person will buy the product.
Social media is not about pushing a message but about engaging with an audience that have chosen to hear the message. Social media can be used for marketing, very effectively, but only if the marketer using it acknowledges that they will have to work differently and that it is now a two-way conversation.
Is it a form of Public Relations?
Public Relations (PR) is about an organisation using the media to spread a message. This is by creating a story related to the organisation, in the hope that it is picked up and creates positive media coverage that positions the organisation at the forefront of the media consumers mind.
You could say that, effectively, social media cuts out the middle man. Social media platforms give the organisation the ability to communicate directly with its consumers, and others, and to have complete control over the message.
Is it a part of Web Development?
Facebook, in particular, sits very closely to web development. It operates in within an Open Source framework that allows developers to create applications and html code to customise pages. Twitter also has many applications now attached to it that act as tools to maximise its use.
Social media also has the ability to drive traffic to websites and interact with them through social plug-ins. It can also help with search engine optimisation of a website.
So, in conclusion, it would seem that social media has a leg in all three disciplines. This is no bad thing as it demonstrates what a diverse and effective tool for communication social media is. The only downside, as there always is with any emerging field, is that many Marketing, PR and Web practitioners are ‘having a go’ at social media but often not getting it quite right.
The only way to ensure that your social media use is going to be as effective as possible is to get support and advice from a specialist social media agency.
As with all forms of marketing, being able to measure the success of what you are doing in social media is essential. Success can come in many different forms though; do you simply want to increase your number of followers/page ‘likes’ , do you want to push traffic to your website/blog or do you want to better engage with your customers and keep your business in their mind?
Yes, having a lot of ‘followers’, ‘connections’ or page ‘likes’ can potentially help your message to be spread further, but what is more important is the quality of those in your network. Are they going to spread your message, engage with you and, ultimately, become a loyal customer…
The key to success in using social media for marketing is to build a network of quality followers, a smaller amount of people who are genuinely interested in what you are saying is much better than loads of people that really don’t care.
Make sure all posts are tagged and linked. This is how you can measure the effectiveness of your conversations. A post with no tagging or linking is a bit like shouting into thin air, especially on Twitter. If you use bit.ly to link to your blog/website, or wherever you want to send people, you can then track how many times you got people to go there.
As in our previous blog : The Three Kings of Social Media Marketing: Content, Timing and Engagement - Engagement is what social media is really all about. You can use tools like Klout to find out how much you are engaging/how influential you are – but the easiest way to measure this is to analyse your social media platforms yourself. Are you constantly posting and not getting any comments/interaction? Maybe look at what you are saying, are you engaging in conversation or are you just shouting about what you want people to hear?
You can easily use social media to market your business if you concentrate on the three principles of; having good content, sending that content at the right times and remembering that it is a two way process by engaging..
If you want people to ‘like’ your Facebook page or not stop following you on Twitter you need to make your content (your status update or Tweets) interesting to your followers. People will have generally ‘liked’ or followed you because they are interested in what your company does so make sure that you content is always true to what you do. For example, if you are a wine shop then post content about new wines you are stocking, deals you have on and little gems about the wine industry. Don’t moan about customers or talk about having to leave early to get your car fixed!?! A great way to regularly update interesting and relevant content is by linking to your own blog or a relevant article that someone else in the industry has written.
This is currently a hot topic in the world of social media and there are even tools such as WhentoTweet and TweetStats that can help you see when your followers are most active and time your updates so they have the best chance of being seen. Best practice says that you should be looking to update your Facebook page 3 to 4 times a week and your Twitter 3 to 4 times a day. The reason you need to be on Twitter more is that the feeds move faster to you have more chance of being seen. However, if you tag your posts correctly they should be getting seen by the right people anyway.
This is probably the most important part of using social media properly. If you are not engaging you may as well not be using these platforms as a form of marketing. You need to be checking all of your sites at least once a day to see if anyone has posted on your wall or mentioned you in a Tweet and you should ALWAYS respond in some way, even if it is just to say ‘thank you’ or suggest taking things offline it is a complaint (so that the rest of your followers know that you haven’t just deleted the complaint or ignored it). You should look to respond as quickly as possible and as a minimum within 24 hours.
If you start with these basic principles of social media there is no reason why you cannot become successful at using it to market your business or organisation. And, as with anything, the more you use it the better you will become and it will all soon seem like second nature.
“Twitter users send more than 140 million tweets a day. With over 20 per cent of the tweets related to products or brands.” – The Marketer
Twitter is an online network that you can tap into to connect with other people in your industry, find out news or engage with your customers.
These are some top tips to get the most from it:
• Make sure you have a good avatar (picture). Either of yourself or the logo of your organisation. Ideal size is 73×73 pixels.
• Make sure your Bio describes succinctly what you are and what you do and preferably links to your website for added authentication.
• You don’t have to follow everyone who is following you – only follow those that are going to add value to your feed.
• Respond to any mentions or direct messages within 24 hours.
• Keep tweets short, sharp and to the point with a link to an article/picture and tagged with an appropriate hashtag for search purposes e.g. #socialmedia
• Look to be ‘engaging’ three to four times a day at least (tweeting, re-tweeting and replying all count as engaging).
These tips just scratch the surface of the potential that Twitter has as a communication tool but will hopefully take you to the next step of getting the most from Twitter if you are just starting out.
- 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