Keeping the Social in Social Media

July 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

100 dollar bill with twitter and facebook logos“How many Facebook fans will you promise me?”  “Can you get me 3,000 Twitter followers by next month?”  Questions like these illustrate two issues: 1. business owners who don’t understand how social media works; and 2. an invitation to be hoodwinked by the less ethical in the field.  Let’s examine the first issue in order to prevent falling for the second:

What do I want from my social media platforms?

Businesses maintain social media profiles for several reasons:

1. to build followings – Yes, numbers do matter.  But the way we build those numbers, and more importantly, the quality of those followers, matter more than the mere numbers.  Ask any business owner with a successful social media presence what he/she prefers: a large number of fans who are invisible on the page except for their places in the fan count; or a smaller number of fans who spend lots of time on the page, interacting, asking and answering questions and being brand advocates.  Hint: ranking systems take much more notice of page activity than of fan counts.  In fact, high fan counts with little or no activity can actually work against rankings.

face with x over mouth2. to foster client relationships – I shudder when I see business profile pages configured to prevent fans from posting to them.  That defeats the entire purpose of social media!  Businesses build loyal followings and strong referrals by interacting in a social manner with their clients and prospects.  That means more than just one way posting of news and product/service pitches.  Businesses that maintain consistent presences, actively listening, engaging in dialogues, welcoming and promptly addressing customer service issues show the online world how attentive and concerned they are for the satisfaction of their clients.  There is no purpose for having profiles if this activity is prevented.

I find most businesses that configure their pages to prevent interaction do so to avoid negative postings.  But dealing quickly with such issues turns negatives into huge positives.  Here’s another point to consider: there really isn’t a way to prevent irate folks from complaining about companies on the internet.  There are plenty of other outlets available for them to use. Wouldn’t it be better to have these folks bring their issues directly to those companies – where other fans can see them resolved quickly by business owners who really care for their clients?

3. to drive sales – Businesses ultimately maintain social media presences to achieve their unified goal:  driving sales.  The quickest way to stifle this goal is to broadcast constant pitches.  People use social media to be social, not to be sold to.  Hence, this goal is accomplished by sharing great value that benefits fans and followers, and again, by encouraging and participating in conversations, listening attentively and showing genuine concern for their satisfaction.  Getting to know prospects and clients in this manner yields the benefit of identifying their readiness to make purchases.  Messages and activities can be fine tuned to each level of preparedness.  All these undertakings unleash the power of social media to guide clients and prospects down sales funnels to successful transactions.

Gaming the system

Open trenchcoat with Wanna Buy a Like sign insideThe power of social media marketing is unleashed when it is done correctly.  Business owners who comprehend all that needs to be undertaken also understand the fact that it is a slow, steady process.  It takes much time and effort to build solid relationships that yield trust, loyalty and brand evangelism.  Anyone who comprehends these facts also realizes promises of 3,000 Twitter followers or 1,000 Facebook fans in one month are pure folly.  At best falling for these claims won’t improve business at all; at worst a sudden swell in numbers without accompanying interaction will work against the business’ page ranking.  It’s always best to remember the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race.”  Think marathon, not sprint.

person hawking bought likes is vanquishedAre you harnessing the true power of social media marketing?  Which best practices are you employing to build trust and loyalty among your fans and followers?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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3 Reasons Too-Good-to-be-True Social Media Promises are Just That

May 27, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                      return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Social media profiles set up, optimized and branded; 100 press release submissions; reputation management; daily content creation; ongoing SEO; forum participation; client relationship management; link building; article submissions; video creation… The list went on for two full pages:
email excerpt showing unrealistic social media promises
All for the low price of…and the named price was enough to hook the most gullible of business owners trying to launch social media as part of their marketing efforts.  Then, for the clincher, there was the GUARANTEE:  a top 10 Google ranking.  Such was the content of an unsolicited email recently received by a client of mine.  He forwarded it to me with the comment, “This sure looks like a lot for the price they are asking.”  I responded by thanking him for the opportunity to see what the charlatans in my field are doing.  My client then said, “You can do all that!  Why don’t YOU advertise like that?”  And so the lesson began once again.

fingers crossed behind backReason #1: There is no such thing as a guarantee of top ranking on Google or any other major search engine.  Be wary of ANY company who makes such promises, ESPECIALLY for bargain basement prices.  Top rankings are achieved through intensive, strategic work and constant monitoring of and adaptation to changing algorithms.  While all this is possible, it cannot be done cheaply.  Nor can it be achieved by one person singlehandedly.  Furthermore, even if this goal is attained, it takes just as much time and monetary investment to remain at the top of the rankings.

fingers crossed behind back croppedReason #2: There aren’t enough hours in a day for one or two or even three people to execute every one of the activities promised in this glorious sounding message.  The broad scope of what this company is offering must be undertaken by a closely integrated group of people, each specializing in one or two aspects, and each investing a considerable amount of time.  Again, this does not come cheaply.

fingers crossed behind back close upReason #3: The company’s promised time frame cannot be guaranteed because the process cannot be rushed. The outreach, engagement and trust building that comprise successful social media marketing take time; for the company to represent its “strategy” as a quick road to success is disingenuous and misleading.

As an interesting aside, I also noticed this company’s promise to build large numbers of fans/followers for the social media profiles it would set up for its clients.  Intrigued, I visited its Facebook business page.  The site boasted several thousand fans.  Wow!  Yet the vast majority of page posts bore a smattering of likes or comments by the same few people.  Employees, perhaps?  Made me wonder…

The only possible conclusion to draw from this experience is that messages we receive which promise the world for the price of a cup of coffee are not to be taken seriously.  Those who send such paraphernalia devalue the social media marketing industry and make the credible businesses in the field look bad.  And anyone on the receiving end of such nonsense who takes the bait will undoubtedly wind up paying much more than promised and receiving much less than guaranteed.  It is best to remember the old adage “If it looks too good to be true, it IS.”

How do you handle messages like the one discussed here?  What do you tell your clients if they approach you after having received one?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Broken Promises pic for blog post mildly touched up with watermark  5 27 2013

Four Ways to Brand Our Twitter Profiles

May 20, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Twitter’s importance in the realm of social media marketing cannot be disputed.  Recent reports have found the platform has gained in significance even more quickly than Facebook and almost every other social media site.  This should come as no surprise considering its versatility and powerful targeting tools.  What DOES surprise, in light of this information, is how many business Twitter accounts I come across whose branding is nonexistent, or minimal at best.  Twitter offers a number of ways to brand our profiles.  We should make full use of all those options to make our profile pages all about our unique brands.

Background images

No matter how informative and inspiring our business posts may be, they lose their punch if they are housed on profile pages adorned by any of the generic backgrounds offered by Twitter.  And while certain services may offer more diverse choices for backgrounds, the fact remains that they are available to anyone. Chances are good they do not even represent our brands’ colors.  Using any of these backgrounds will not make our business profile pages stand out as uniquely ours.

JayVee Media Link Twitter profile screen shot

Custom branded Twitter backgrounds should be planned and designed by whoever created our companies’ branding graphics.  Ideally, they should match what appears on our websites, and also on all our other social media platforms that allow custom branding.  Greg Trujillo provides a good resource plus template for proper dimensions and other specifics in his post “Twitter Background Design 2013.”  Completed custom backgrounds can be uploaded by going to our profile pages (via the Me link).  Placing our cursors in the cover picture field makes visible an edit button in the area’s upper right corner. Click that, then go to “Design” in the left column. Scroll down past Twitter’s premade choices to “Customize your own.”

Twitter design options screen shot

Profile pictures

Photos of us are preferred over those of logos or objects for our profile pictures.  We have plenty of space on our Twitter profiles for branding; our profile pictures need to allow others to see that they are interacting with actual people.  This is especially reassuring when we consider the number of fake profiles populating the platform.  Our profile pictures should be professional looking head shots – preferably the same ones that we use for our websites and our other business social profiles.

Header images

Header images are a fairly new feature on Twitter.  They offer even more space to brand, in an ideal spot:  around our profile pictures.  We should make optimal use of this area, which includes our bios and links to our websites and other social sites.  Good information about dimensions and other particulars for this feature can be found in the post “Check Out the Correct Twitter Header Size and Resolution.”

Branding colors

When branding our Twitter backgrounds it is of course important to incorporate our brand’s representative colors.  In doing so, we must not forget about the links on our profiles!  The edit design screen includes space to customize this important element. It is best to know the hex numbers, or online identification tags, of our specific branding colors when effecting this customization.  We just need to input our desired hex number into the appropriate box for link color.  We can also input a hex number to use a branded color for the background of our actual Twitter feed itself. Save changes, and done!

Twitter customize link color screen shot

Are you making the best use of all the customization capabilities Twitter gives us?  Have you implemented any special branding ideas to give your profile an extra edge? Please share your strategies in the comments section below!

Social Media Automation: Boon or Bust?

May 6, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

robot for automationTo 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 social media automation tool logosexperiences in the comments section below!

Do You Speak Twitter or Facebook?

February 4, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Social media is an important channel for marketing goods and services, more now than ever before.  But using the “tools” of this channel for business requires knowledge and understanding of each platform and how to best employ it.  Too many would-be online marketers do not grasp the “pull” nature of social media marketing.  Equally importantly, they fail to comprehend the nuances of each platform they wish to use.

Twitter surfing on computer mouseOne concept I’d like to address in this post is the fact that each social media platform has its own “voice.”  Each one serves a different overall purpose, and hence each is different in the way users engage.  Let’s look at the two most popular channels:  Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a great platform for making connections.  Communication is vital, but it is necessarily concise since tweets are encapsulated by that 140 character limit.  Because everything is so “quick hit,” the action moves very swiftly on Twitter.  There are forums where good discussions take place, such as hashtagged conversations.  But these conversations move very quickly because of the brevity of the verbal exchanges.

Facebook figure with megaphoneFacebook, on the other hand, is really good for solidifying connections and building relationships.  It is the tool by which we engage more in depth with our fans and our peers; we service our clients, ask and answer more detailed questions, and really allow our brands’ human side to show.  Because of this activity, Facebook posts tend to be longer and more descriptive.  The pace seems almost leisurely by comparison.

Other social media platforms have their own personalities and functions too.  LinkedIn maintains a more professional demeanor.  Though not entirely, it is primarily a business to business platform. The interaction there is more formal than we see on Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is somewhere in the middle:  less formal than LinkedIn, but not as casual as Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is also good for B2B, though it’s not as dedicated to that arena as LinkedIn.

When marketers juggle multiple social media platforms, cross posting is considered a great time saver.  There are some limited situations where the practice may work, but it should never be abused.  Twitter folk often dislike seeing posts from Facebook.  The whole style of posting to Facebook doesn’t fit in a Twitter environment.  Conversely, Facebook users don’t take to tweets showing up on timelines – ESPECIALLY when they contain hashtags!  Posts on most other platforms aren’t compatible with the style of verbal exchange on LinkedIn.  Ultimately, it is important to realize that cross posting may save some time on the front end, but it may cost us fans and followers in the long run.  The best approach is to become familiar with each platform’s unique voice, and learn to use each appropriately when sharing our value.

Which social media platform “lingo” do YOU speak best?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!three platforms with megaphones

Social Media Campaigns: Keeping the Focus

January 7, 2013
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

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:

pitches surrounding miserable person1. 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!

the customer is our star

Social Media Platform Ads: Research and Use Them with Care

December 17, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

LinkedIn ads pageSocial media marketers are happily making use of the various paid ad formats offered by each of the major social platforms.  Any opportunity to increase the reach of our advertising messages is a boon to our efforts.  However, we must remember that these formats aren’t interchangeable, and they won’t necessarily work in all situations.  As with our organic efforts, the key is to research:

1. our target prospects;

2. which platform(s) might best appeal to them;

3. their possible reactions to the various ad formats;

3. the situations under which each format may or may not work optimally.

Online investigation via social media profiles and targeting tools yields more information about the personalities and preferences of our prospects than we ever were privy to before.  (Of course, we need to use the wealth of personal information we find there judiciously and respectfully.)  As we see behavioral and preference patterns emerge we will be better able to formulate more effective advertising spots.  We should also get a better feel for which specific type of paid ad will work best for these targeted prospects.

Facebook sponsored  story sampleIronically, the ads that potentially reach the largest audiences are also the ones many social platform users dislike: those that are placed directly into their newsfeeds/streams.  A company named Mediabrix recently did some interesting research.  Among other things, its findings indicate that we need to be especially careful when crafting these ads. They may invoke ire when they masquerade as friends’ stories, because our unsuspecting prospects feel duped into reading them.  Mediabrix found that 72% of Facebook users and 62% of Twitter users formed negative opinions of brands that intruded on their news feeds in this manner.  The lesson:  this type of ad should not mimic content from our prospects’ friends.  These folks also don’t appreciate having their newsfeeds/streams spammed; this is another thing about which to be mindful.

Twitter promoted tweet sampleAds are a helpful way to get the word out about our products and services.  But while researching and planning our strategies it is critical that we stay focused on the most desired effects of properly executed social media marketing.  The real benefits come from engaging, building trust and confidence, and immersing our prospects in the experience of our brands.  All the advertising in the world won’t lead to success on social media platforms unless we invest the proper time and energy into maintaining meaningful presences on those sites.

Which ad offerings have you used for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc?  Are you happy with the results you have achieved?  Please share your findings in the comments section below!

See also:

“Are Social Media Marketers Running Ahead of Consumers?” by Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed

LinkedIn Ads information

“A Simple Breakdown of All Your Facebook Advertising Options” by HubSpot’s Amanda Sibley

“How to Use Paid Advertising on Twitter to Promote Your Business” by Examiner.com’s Christina Thompson

Instagram: An Awesome Social Media Tool

November 19, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

JayVee Media Link picture uploaded via Instagram appInstagram may have started out as a fun and easy way to share photos from our smart phones.  But it has rapidly become an indispensible tool for social media marketers.  There is no easier way to upload pictures to our companies’ social profiles or to capture imaginative photos for posting to our blogs.

Instagram’s main appeal for marketers is its ability to expedite the building and engaging of our brands’ followers via the visual medium.  Our smart phone cameras, which give all but the most professional grade photographic equipment a run for their money these days, are always available for capturing appropriate photos to suit our marketing needs.  With a click of the “share” button, the mobile app eliminates the intermediate steps of downloading our pictures from a traditional digital camera’s memory sticks to our computers, and then uploading them to our desired sites. The process is quick and easy. The app also has some neat filter options for photo enhancements. And now our pictures are viewable on a web based profile, too!

Thanks to Instagram we can seamlessly post and share pictures of:

–our products or services in action;

–satisfied clients using our products/services;

–events or objects that are associated with our businesses;

–events or subjects that humanize our brands.

Enterprising marketers can even run photo contests for their fans/followers by having them upload hashtagged pictures via the Instagram app!

Instagram Photo Grid and Textgram sample picture  collage with text**BONUS INFO**  Instagram has a couple of “cousin apps” that add versatility to its functionality.  One is called Photo Grid.  As the name suggests, it enables the creation of collages, which can then be shared via Instagram.  The other is Textgram.  This app allows text to be added to our pictures.  Working with these three apps expands the horizon of possibilities for the pictures we upload to our business sites.

We go nowhere without our mobile phones these days.  That means we have cameras with us everywhere we go.  Whether spontaneously clicking on an impromptu scene that gives our clients and followers a glimpse into the human side of our brands or staging a shot to enhance our blog posts, our Instagram enhanced smart phones are at the ready for our easy use.

How do YOU use Instagram to benefit YOUR business?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Auto Launch Ads: Well Received, or a Turn-Off?

November 5, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

“Should companies pursue video ads that auto launch when a website loads?”  That is the question I recently posted in a LinkedIn group.  I asked because I have noticed recently a new trend that appears to be proliferating across a large number of websites.  I visit a site and begin to read what interests me when a marketing pitch suddenly launches.  Frustrated by the intrusion, I stop what I am doing and scroll down the length of the page to find and silence the offending ad.  I don’t even know what is being pitched.  All I know is the message intruded on my time and patience for having to seek it out.

auto launch video that re initiates on site page

Believe it or not, there are audio/visual strategies employed today that are even worse!  Sometimes we need to hunt for multiple ads that are scattered across a page, placed in hard to notice spots.  These offenders may auto launch consecutively; often, they launch simultaneously.  When they do that each message talks over the other, with the result being nothing but unintelligible noise.  Then there are the video ads that DON’T stop playing when we locate and pause them.  Or they pause for a short period of time, then relaunch so we have to scroll back and shut them up AGAIN.  Finally, some sites auto launch audio feeds that are altogether impossible to locate.  Hence, we are held hostage to the marketer’s messages.

auto launch video hidden way down a site page

Aside from obvious annoyance, my feeling regarding these tactics is, how bad must the product/service be if a merchant has to resort to such underhanded tactics to force me to listen to his/her message?  I fully support and endorse the use of audio and video advertising channels, as they are among our most effective marketing tools.  But they need to be used considerately.  Intelligent placement and smartly crafted calls to action can entice a page visitor to launch an ad message.  There is a much better chance that, if so enticed, the visitor will be more interested in hearing about the product/service.  Where is the sense, then, in risking annoying and even alienating a prospective customer by forcing a message on him/her?

I must admit I expected to be chastised by any of my fellow social media marketers who would comment on my frustrated rant.  Surprisingly, just the opposite unfolded.  Every single comment echoed my chagrin regarding this strategy.  While everyone felt intruded upon, some responders bemoaned additional issues, such as slow internet speeds being locked up while these ads load, or having them blare out while in a quiet office setting. Overall, a very few who weighed in thought the practice might be a necessary evil these days. But the vast majority agreed with my view: a message that resonates should not need to hold site visitors hostage in order to be heard. Placing a video ad considerately and using a creative call to action to entice visitors to click the play button are much better strategies than forcing an unsolicited message on those visitors via an auto launch feature.

What is YOUR feeling regarding using or hosting audio and/or video ads that auto launch?  Do you think the practice may appeal to site visitors?  Do you mind them when you are visiting websites?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

auto launch video on LinkedIn discussion page