To automate or not to automate? That is a very popular question these days. And it’s one that appears to inspire passionate debate!
The way people use social media automation ultimately determines whether the practice is a good or a bad one. We DO need to remember that for social interaction to be successful we must be present for it! Automation needs to be recognized for what it is – a set of tools, rather than an end in itself.
Automate to Share
One useful type of automation consists of tools that help us to quickly curate great quality content by other leaders and peers in our fields. Sharing value is one of the most important ingredients of successful social media marketing. The activity engenders trust and loyalty among our followers, who appreciate the no strings attached information we share with them. As an added bonus, the content we regularly share helps us to stay visible among our fans and followers throughout each day.
The downside to content curation is the inordinate amount of time we would need to spend researching and evaluating posts we deem important enough to share if we had to undertake this necessary activity manually. Such a time investment would render impossible the equally important activity of real time responding and conversing with our fans/followers. Tools like Bundlepost offer wonderful methods of accomplishing curation while still maintaining ample opportunity for the real time interactions on which successful social media marketing turns. In this light, social media automation is definitely a good thing.
Schedule for Smarter Real-Time Presence
Another facet of social media automation that hits the proverbial hot button is the actual advance scheduling of the posts we wish to share. Opponents of the practice often paint proponents as lazy and apathetic about the germination and nurturing of those all important social media relationships. In actuality, proper use of advance scheduling tools offers benefits that would be very difficult to attain if every post we shared was in real time. For example, we may wish to target specific time sensitive posts to a certain segment of our prospects/clients who are located in different time zones. It makes much better sense to schedule copies of our posts to arrive within the necessary time frames, targeted to our fans/followers in each applicable time zone than it does to manually resend our messages at the necessary times for each time zone we need to target.
As noted earlier, advance scheduling of value posts keeps our companies present and visible among our social media platforms for our clients and prospects to see. Ideally, these should serve as “anchor” posts which we use to stimulate enthusiasm and spark good conversation among our fans/followers. In other words, advance scheduling does NOT mean we may walk away from our accounts. Proper use of this feature allows us to spend even more time present and engaging with our audiences, ultimately guiding them down our sales funnels. Truly, the only fail with this system is for those with an automation “set it and forget it” mentality.
Which social media automation tools have you tried? Which ones do you prefer for your business? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus. And SO MANY others. In the social media marketing realm there is a place and a purpose for each platform. Of course, it would be counterproductive to try keeping up with ALL of them. Each one requires a proper time investment. But a strong marketing strategy will employ several, integrating them into a good, productive campaign.
After carefully selecting the best social media platforms to suit our business needs, it is not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the one or two whose style(s) we favor. That may well lead to us spending a greater share of our time on the one(s) we prefer. But in order to court success for our clients – as well as for ourselves – we need to step outside of our own preferences and ask: Which platform are the majority of our clients and prospects using? We owe it to them as well as to ourselves to become comfortable and fluent on the one THEY favor, and to invest a larger share of our time and energy posting and engaging with them THERE.
Are our businesses primarily B2B? Chances are the profile that holds the most potential for us is LinkedIn. B2C? Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may likely fit the bill. Do our businesses lend themselves to visual displays and promotions? Pinterest and/or You Tube may be the best places to court and interact with current/potential clients. These are merely generalizations, of course. The best platforms for us need to be determined through careful analysis of our specific businesses.
To recap: Planning a successful strategy means determining which of the social media platforms will work best to service the general needs of our growing businesses. Smart planning will result in setting up and using the few most likely to deliver the best results for our important business metrics. After that, the largest segment of our time needs to be spent engaging on the one or two platforms that are most heavily populated by the people who are more likely to want or need the product/service we provide. It is our duty to become familiar and comfortable with those channels in particular, so we may nurture the most potentially fruitful connections and hence obtain the best return from our invested time.
Which platform do you feel is most heavily populated by the best prospects for your business? How will you use that social media channel to engage with them? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Happy New Year! As we return from our holiday down time and prepare to jump enthusiastically back into our marketing campaigns, we need to remember a basic social media concept. Whether we are handling our own or our clients’ businesses, we must recommit to the rule that our efforts be customer centered. What do our current/prospective clients need? How can we satisfy those needs? What can we share with them that will bring value to their businesses and/or their lives? These are the reasons for a social media business presence, after all.
Here are some good rules of thumb for keeping our social efforts client centric:
1. Share value, not incessant sales pitches. Remember, social media is a pull-marketing technique. Our audience is seeking helpful instruction and good engagement. We need to provide high quality information in the posts we create and share from reputable peers in the field. While there is nothing wrong with an occasional direct pitch, our audience does not like to be overwhelmed by them.
2. Post lots of pictures and, where possible, videos. These shares garner the most views, so they are more effective at conveying important information. Multimedia postings also encourage the most engagement.
3. Be ourselves when posting. Don’t be afraid to allow clients to see and interact with the human side behind our brands. Doing so is viewed positively by a vast majority of our audience.
4. Be mindful of the fact that the best tolerated social media advertising we can effect is through soft selling. Instead of shoving our messages under their noses, we need to make our audience understand how our products/services will satisfy specific needs they have. Share testimonials from other satisfied customers. Conduct contests if our businesses lend themselves to that approach. Request input on certain decisions regarding packaging, features, and other details where possible. Post pictures of our products in action, or better yet, ask our readers to post their own. We need to set the stage for our audience to come to us via our methods of sharing, talking and helping them with their needs.
What are other techniques we should employ to keep the focus of our social media efforts where it belongs – on our customers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
We have been hearing a lot lately about innovative ways to advertise on Facebook. Well, Twitter is not about to let Facebook monopolize the marketing limelight! Over the past few weeks the microblogging platform has introduced several tweaks to its advertising opportunities. Since the changes are new, it’s too early to tell how effective they will be. But they do sound promising!
One change Twitter has effected is that the rule requiring “promoted tweets” to be sent only to a business’ followers has been lifted. Businesses can now target ads to a variety of different interest categories, as well as to people who demonstrate similar interests to the companies’ accounts. With a little imagination, we can see how broadly this new allowance opens up the field of potential recipients for marketing ads.
Another change is that Twitter has dropped the price of its promoted tweets considerably. While the platform still employs the auction style sales model, the price it charges per engagement for an advertising bid has been dropped from 50 cents to a penny. This change should dramatically expand the number of merchants who use Twitter advertising. Be warned, though, that merely winning auctions does not guarantee ad placement into the stream. The tweets that will be promoted must first demonstrate that they achieve good responses.
In conjunction with these changes to Twitter promotions, global advertising marketplace Ad Dynamo has added a new twist: paying Twitter users to promote products. What better way to appeal to prospective customers than through sincere endorsements from some of their peers? With the launch of Ad Dynamo’s sponsored tweet campaigns, any Twitter user can become a paid promoter of a company’s product or service. He or she needs only to register for the program and respond to briefs that prospective marketers prepare. A price is then set for user promotion. Of course, those participants with large followings and good reach are able to set higher prices for their recommendations. The companies have final say to ensure that the right messages are being conveyed in an appropriate manner for them, and Ad Dynamo supplies them with analytics to measure the success of the Twitter users’ promotional efforts. Authenticity in tweeting is strongly suggested, since hollow endorsements can be spotted fairly easily. Other than that, the process is pretty straightforward.
I should mention here that Facebook also offers a version of sponsored stories. However, its version is done differently, and is not very popular with the platform’s users. In order to employ its sponsored stories ad campaigns, Facebook relies on a frequently overlooked stipulation in its terms of service that new users are required to accept. In a nutshell, this rule allows the platform to turn a Facebook user’s “like” of a business or product into an ad if that business pays them to do so. No further permission is required of the profile owner, whose name is then used for endorsement purposes. Many Facebook users resent this move, believing it to be both a violation of their privacy and not necessarily a true endorsement. Even those users who don’t mind having their names appear in Facebook’s sponsored stories acknowledge that merely liking a business page is not tantamount to a recommendation. All things considered, sweetening the deal as Ad Dynamo is doing by offering a monetary incentive AND making participants opt in yields a much higher acceptability rate for Twitter’s sponsored stories over Facebook’s efforts.
The competition between and among social media platforms and their advertising offerings is giving way to more innovation and diversity for businesses who employ the sites. This is good news for companies who understand the growing importance of these marketing tools and embrace the strategies they offer.
What are your thoughts about Twitter’s changes to its promoted tweets? Does Ad Dynamo’s sponsored tweets service appeal to you? Please let us know in the comments section below!
LinkedIn was the hot topic for one of my recent coaching sessions. For all the people on that site, it is surprising that a considerably small percentage understand how to make optimal use of its rich offerings.
While many of the “rules” for proper use of the platform coincide with those of other social media sites, LinkedIn is a little more regimented in the way it presents its opportunities. Considering that it is oriented more toward business to business interaction, the manner of contact and communication on the platform is understandably more formal. People generally maintain profiles for job search or for business networking; hence, “best foot forward” etiquette applies. There is less latitude for informality. Finesse is also a word that comes to mind when I think and talk about interaction on LinkedIn.
Let’s look at some of the basic procedures we can follow to increase our chances of successful interaction on LinkedIn:
–“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Remember that sage old adage? Our first impression on ANY social media site comes from our profiles. It is essential to fill them out as completely as possible. We need to be as descriptive as we can, in as succinct a manner as we can achieve. Not an easy feat! We also need to keep an eye toward employing strong niche related keywords and phrases as we craft our passages. Equally important is the inclusion of a profile picture, preferably of us instead of logos or products. It really helps to facilitate communication when a person can see a picture of whom he/she is addressing!
–Make connections with people already known to us on LinkedIn. If we know them well enough, we shouldn’t be shy about asking for recommendations. The sight of positive reviews on our profiles builds our reputations as well as our brands. BUT, remember that giving is even more important than receiving. We must be willing to write recommendations for others too – even before we are asked to do so.
–Search for and join niche related groups. We must prepare to be active participants in them, too. That entails keeping our eyes on the discussion topics, and adding our input wherever we see an opportunity. If possible, we should also initiate topics ourselves. This consistent activity builds visibility on LinkedIn and elevates status in our fields. In turn, it will also translate to more connections that hold good business potential for us.
–Another good feature for building our visibility, credibility, and ultimately connections is the “answers” section of LinkedIn. We should remember to visit it often, perusing it for posted questions that hold an opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise with our answers. Of course, we can always post our own queries there if we need assistance!
–The more we interact via the above mentioned LinkedIn features, the more potential we will have for making good connections. This is something for which we need to strive. And we must remember to nurture those new associations. Direct selling, especially right away, is a sure way to find ourselves ostracized. Even on a profile like LinkedIn, which is primarily for business interaction, relationships must be grown and trust must be built before selling can take place. Ideally, once a comfort level is achieved with connections on site, an invitation can be offered to discuss business more in depth off the site; e.g., via email, chat, video conferencing, or even in person. That is the arena in which concentration can be turned to how we and our LinkedIn acquaintances may be able to benefit each other with our businesses.
What other tips can you offer to help us achieve business success via our LinkedIn profiles? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
“Twitter? Ugh! I HATE Twitter!” That is the reaction I often get when I recommend the platform as a business building tool in new clients’ social media marketing toolboxes. In spite of its wild popularity among business owners who grasp the vast potential Twitter holds, those who are less well informed about social media marketing seriously misunderstand the channel…and underrate its value to their companies.
The biggest complaint about Twitter that I hear from new clients stems from their notions that everyone on the platform does nothing but tweet nonsensical minutiae about their personal lives. The second biggest grievance I hear is that the channel spreads users’ messages too widely to ever be useful to them. Objections like these are quickly put to rest when my clients learn a few facts about Twitter:
It is easy to build a following that is very specific to one’s niche by using Twitter’s search tool. There are other related sites, like Twellow, that also offer this service. But the one built into the platform is very easy to use, and returns the best results I have seen. Just type in some relevant keywords and click the search button. While not necessary for this activity, it is helpful to precede the words with the hashtag symbol (#). Follow any accounts that look like good potential matches; Twitter etiquette dictates that the vast majority will follow back. Of course, be sure to message a note of thanks to those people who do, which helps set the stage for engagement. But don’t try selling right off the bat. On Twitter, as on every other social media platform, the name of the game is relationship building. Pitches must come later.
As we build and engage our targeted Twitter followers, we become immersed in a constant stream of the freshest industry information available, posting almost as it is breaking. Think of it as the most valuable instant messaging system we can join. We can contribute our expertise as well as benefit from that of our peers at the uppermost levels of our niches. The best way to grow our following further is to demonstrate our knowledge, and to be willing to help by freely sharing it. The best way to service our clients is to operate with the most cutting edge information we can find. Twitter is one of the best resources for both sides of this business equation.
Hitting proper targets for our expertise
We can target our messages to those who will potentially benefit the most, and hence stand the best chance of becoming clients, by using one of the same tools that helped us locate relevant followers in the first place. Hashtags are invaluable for this process. They also categorize our messages by subject or niche, making them easy to find. As with all great tools, however, be sure to use them wisely – and avoid overuse.
By posting links in our tweets, we can use Twitter to drive traffic to our websites, our blog pages, and to our other social media platforms. In fact, Twitter has the potential to drive more traffic than almost any other channel.
Twitter allows much latitude for businesses to advertise their branding. Almost everything from a profile’s background image to the colors of its text can be configured to match a company’s branding. This is very significant, as uniform appearance across a website and all social media channels strengthens a company’s identification and instills confidence in its customers.
Whether new to social media marketing or not, every business owner needs to understand the importance of using a Twitter account. For any of the above mentioned necessary activities, the platform is an invaluable tool.
Do you get pushback when you speak of Twitter to your clients? How do you handle a negative reaction toward this important social media tool? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Facebook ads – to buy them or not? Considering how many posts are circulating on both sides of this issue, the choice is not an easy one to make. My views aren’t set in stone just yet, but I’d like to share them with you.
I like Facebook for marketing, and I frequently recommend it to my clients. I especially like the business friendly features the platform added to its pages. But, while I understand its desire and need to generate revenue, my belief is that the push for more advertising goes against the social media site’s core concept. Facebook has always been a place for social connecting, not hard selling. I recommend the platform for engaging with a brand’s current and potential fans; as an avenue to breed familiarity, build trust, and service those fans. With the new, no cost features Facebook has given its business pages it is relatively easy to highlight new products, services, special deals, etc. For my philosophical purposes, that is good enough.
Of course, I will not refuse a client who wishes to advertise on the Facebook platform. And lately, there has been push back against the reports that as a marketing venue Facebook isn’t successful enough to be considered truly viable for businesses. But most of those countering reports stem from one marketing analytic organization, which lists Facebook as one of its main clients. It would be nice to see analytical interpretations done by other associations as well.
The research I have done so far has indicated a proclivity toward unhappiness over Facebook’s push toward monetization via its ads. Some merchants feel the rule changes shift the playing field so that creativity and traditionally successful strategies can be undercut by competitors who are willing to pay for more exposure. Personal profile users are not happy about being bombarded with ads all over Facebook. And some of the platform’s newer marketing systems target users via methods that are more intrusive on privacy than ever before. For example, merely liking a business page can be reason enough for a user to turn up in a “sponsored story.” Also, the platform is using cookies placed on profile users’ computers to track their off-Facebook activities in order to tailor ads for them, as opposed to just relying on the preferences they list on their profiles. This is similar to the methods Google uses for its advertising. Facebook claims that its users have the ability to opt out of this level of intrusion. But how many users on average know how to change their settings to do that? For the general public who wants to connect, socialize and engage with friends, this is a bit too much privacy to sacrifice.
There is also talk that Facebook may eventually begin charging for the special features it now offers to business pages for free. This may happen especially if the platform’s ads don’t generate the revenue for which it is hoping. One recent study actually concluded that more positive response is coming from the free features than from the paid ads. That said, it stands to reason that Facebook might want to push everyone into a scenario where every type of special promotion will cost. I can’t say so definitively, but I believe a move like this will turn more people away from marketing on Facebook – especially when we consider how many new social media platforms are cropping up almost daily. It’s only a matter of time before one (probably more) of them rivals the number of users that Facebook currently has.
While I understand its motivation, I feel that Facebook is trying to make itself into something it wasn’t meant to be. Its current structure plays an important role for its social clients as well as its business pages. Change can be a good thing, but sometimes completely reinventing oneself can have undesirable outcomes. In its quest to procure greater profit margins, I wonder if Facebook may be going too far in a direction its users do not wish to go.
How do you feel about all the new methods for paid ads that Facebook is pushing? Do you approve of this new direction the platform is taking? Will it help or hurt, in your opinion? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Content creation; posting; engaging; marketing; curation; strategizing; maintaining an active presence on all the relevant social media sites; mobile marketing; email marketing… Hour after hour we sit, until our eyes blur and our minds turn foggy. Day turns to night; darkness gives way to dawn, and still we toil. There is SO MUCH to do, and so few hours in a day…
Does this feel like an accurate description of your life in the social media field? If it does, you’re not alone. I recently came across this mind blowing social media infographic posted by Business Insider, and it put everything into perspective.
When we love what we do our enthusiasm is high, and it’s easy to overreach. That’s why it’s so important to understand the scope of the tasks we undertake, and to know our limits. Even the most knowledgeable and motivated amongst us can’t possibly deliver quality work when spreading themselves so thinly. The only possible result of trying to do it all is poor quality for our clients, and a bad case of burnout for ourselves.
So how do we navigate the labyrinthine processes of the social media field? Here are some thoughts:
I mean this on several different levels. Stay on top of the changes and rollouts that impact the major social media platforms. This way you will remain knowledgeable on how to best utilize their features. Do your best to become familiar with at least some of the smaller outlets across the different facets of the social media marketing sphere, too. That will help eliminate the need to blindly cast around, grabbing at the latest, newest crazes for which it may not be truly worth devoting any time. Instead you will be well equipped to recommend the few platforms that will optimally suit your clients and yourself.
Bring in help
There’s no getting around this. The only way you will be able to deliver consistent, quality service is to share the work load. But please note: It won’t do to “hire” your 12 year old niece because she is a Facebook powerhouse or your best friend because you enjoy socializing with him/her. You need to look hard for people who:
–share your dedication to the field;
–eagerly embrace the ongoing learning, including the necessary research to be able to faithfully speak and engage in the voice of your clients;
–have great marketing skills;
— possess strong communication and writing abilities, including proper spelling, grammar and sentence construction;
–are intuitive enough to readily adapt as circumstances dictate.
Interns are fine, as long as they are interested enough in the field to pursue related work. In other words, innate interest, intrinsic motivation, dedication to the process and commitment to the end goals are necessary qualities to seek when bringing in assistance.
The social media marketing field is exploding as more businesses come to understand its power and significance in today’s marketing strategies. For anyone who finds the field exciting, it makes a wonderful, stimulating career. But we need to remember to prepare ourselves on all levels so that we are able to deliver great quality while avoiding the pitfalls and the burnout.
What steps do you take in your business to ensure top quality service and keep from becoming overwhelmed? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
I’d like to change things up a bit this week by sharing news of a new marketing tool about which I recently read. It’s from a startup company, and I believe its potential is enormous!
Gumroad was developed by Sahil Lavingia, a 19 year old former Pinterest employee. It appears to be an answer to the dauntingly complex task of listing goods that merchants wish to market online. Simply put, it allows us to sell directly through our social media channels. All we need to do is upload the information about our merchandise, and share the link that Gumroad generates for us on our social media platforms. For a 25 cent transaction fee and 5% of the sale price, it handles the hosting, payment and delivery for us. Yes, really! Gumroad can have us marketing our wares literally in the amount of time it takes us to upload our information to its site and share the resulting generated link!
I am very excited about the potential Gumroad holds for my social media clients, and I’m sure you will be, too. For the ease of its functionality alone it is destined to be very big!
What are your thoughts about Gumroad? Will you be able to make use of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
–an observation by Jeanine Vecchiarelli, founder of JayVee Media Link LLC
“My social media profiles have been up for a year! Why do I have only 11 followers on one and 9 on the other?” That was the question I was recently asked when I was hired to perform JayVee Media Link’s Social Media Evaluation for a new client.
The small business that hired me for this job is well known and highly ranked in its local area, so I was interested to see why its social media business plan was falling flat. It didn’t take long for the answer to present itself clearly. On the company’s Twitter profile, there was a mere handful of posts spread at approximately monthly intervals over the year, all of which shared news of upcoming events and service offerings. Over the past year, there was not a single instance of interaction with followers, and not a single indication that any effort had been made to build the company’s following.
I’m sure you already suspect that this business’ Facebook page was similarly neglected. But there was one additional thing I saw on that profile that positively chilled me. There was a nine month old post from a prospective client saying, “I want to know more!” The post was never answered. It was never even acknowledged.
Social media is….SOCIAL. Internet marketing for business, large or small, MUST comprise an active, enthusiastic presence on a business’ social media profiles. A continuous effort to build a company’s following using any of the multitude of strategies on the internet, and ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT with a profile’s followers are ABSOLUTE MUSTS. Any business that is not prepared to do the work necessary to build and maintain a positive, interactive online presence, either in house or via the internet marketing services that are offered by social media companies like JayVee Media Link, should understand that it will not see success through that particular avenue of marketing.
Considering that social media marketing is the next big wave for advertising a business’ goods and services, it is strongly recommended that any company looking to expand its reach – even on a local level – learn to integrate successful internet marketing strategies into its business planning.