Save Social: Walk The Talk

Many of us have been following along, reading the rash of articles being published and shared, all dealing with how to best “do” social. One of these articles, an op-ed piece on Mashable, got a lot of shares across the social media sphere this morning. The author compares the unknown, hopefully waiting in the wings, good guy to Jerry Maguire, which is a nice comparison, but it leads to the impression that there isn’t a force already mobilized to “take back” and save social business. Steamfeed, in fact, is a bastion of strength and ideas for social “done right”, as the bulk of the posts focus and target the very topics that seem to bring out the social naysayers.

social Publishing

photo credit: william couch via photopin cc

My own November theme was “Walk the Talk” and within that theme I posted about and hosted discussion on the variety of ways some “big names” and “popular experts” were being less than socially correct with some of their behaviors and actions. These topics and discussions ranged from Terms of Service violations to buying and trading likes. I thought it fitting to share some of the most “talked about” topics here.

They’ll Never Notice | Those Rules Don’t Apply to Me: Though I probably shouldn’t be, I am still shocked to see how many social solutions “names”, be they big or small, feel that there’s nothing wrong with blatantly ignoring Terms of Service (ToS), especially on Facebook. Contact information in their cover images, no big deal…it’s not like Facebook is really searching it out, so who cares? Right? Wrong. Those pages lost my like. Did that impact them much? Probably not. But I share A LOT of information, from a variety of sources, and those pages shall no more share in my sharing proclivity.

And some of the ways these folks try to get around the rules? Priceless. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a company owner post a side view of their car, complete with door panel graphics so they can get that phone number front and center. Nice try, still in violation. And how is that a cover image that represents your business in the best light? And, please, don’t get me started on the QR codes in cover photos. I’m not pulling out my phone to scan my computer screen, SERIOUSLY. Plus, yeah… kind of contact info and a call to action all rolled into one.

I’m A Little Guy So It Won’t Hurt Anyone: Back to Facebook and TOS, sorry, but a wide variety of infractions take place on the biggie platform. This time we’re talking contests and giveaways. Although it has been blogged and shared and promoted and shared and broadcast and shared time and time again, folks just can’t seem to grasp that they can’t run a contest directly on their page. But, it’s a random drawing, so that’s okay, right? Wrong. That’s a giveaway which falls under the same ToS rules and regulations.

Follower Fixation | Failure to Follow: How often do we see big name experts with tens of thousands of followers who only follow a minuscule 2-300? I see it all the time. What do I “see” when I see this? I see someone who doesn’t see much value in keeping abreast of the thoughts of others. I see someone who is interested in broadcasting their own content and ideas rather than sharing the best content and ideas with their followers. I see someone engaged in a one-way broadcast rather than taking part in a conversation, someone interested in shouting rather than listening.

Love for Sale: Also known as Back Scratch Fever. Likes, follows and the act of circling aren’t commodities to trade like baseball cards or beanie babies. I can’t tell you how many times a day I see something resembling this statement showing up on walls or in private messages:

I have liked your page as myself and as my page, and I would really appreciate it if you would return the favor.

Yeah, ummmmmmm, your business and, thus, your page is ALL about parakeet grooming in Redwood City, CA. I have three cats and I live in Tucker, GA. Where’s the draw, the value, the impetus for me to like your page? And if I was even slightly intrigued, that message, which is basically begging, would quickly change my mind.

The One Way Highway: Also known as Me Me Me Me Me! This behavior shows up on every platform, so there’s really no hiding from it. It showcases itself in a variety of ways, including:

  • Blast Posting | Feed Takeovers | Digital Diarrhea – you know, 15 tweets within 15 seconds, etc.
  • Inspirational Quotes with no “introduction” or follow up from the poster as to why they find them important. So, why should I?
  •  Caption this photos trying to take advantage of the extra engagement that photos are prone to get, except the photo is lame and has nothing to do, whatsoever, with your business or your audience.
  • Fill in the blanks of the same type in order to get the most “reach”.

My little list barely skims the surface. So come on, help me “fill in the blanks” a bit. What gets your goat when it comes to the “names” that seem more intent on remaining a name than in actually working within the proper social circles. Everyone loves an opportunity to clear the air and even get a little rant on, so have at it!

In closing, I removed the “Like” from a lot of Facebook pages, unfollowed a lot of Twitter accounts and even disconnected from a handful of Linkedin accounts. Did my own numbers plunge? Nope. On the contrary, they rose! People like seeing someone take a stand, even a small one. If we each take these small stands, we will “save” social. We all walk the talk, every day…it’s going to get us to a valuable and viable destination.

What Apps do you use on a Daily Basis?

I’ve been reading a lot about different apps that my colleagues use to make their lives better and work load more manageable, so I thought I would make some additions and discuss some of the tools that I have in my tool kit. Lets go ahead and just follow through a typical day in my social media work world.
apps toolkit

photo credit: RLHyde via photopin cc

The Rules of the Day

I feel I would be remiss if I did not mention the first tool in my tool kit, the “go to” tool that I rely the most on in my daily routine…my coffee maker…ha ha ha. Okay now that is out of the way, and I am still not sure if that was tongue in cheek or really a serious tool, lets look at the real work horses in my arsenal

First things First

I’m a huge fan of Google Chrome, it is far and away my browser. I click on it 4 times first thing, one for each monitor. If you are not using multiple monitors, you have no idea what you are missing. Nuff said

The Big Four

When I fire up the ole desktop I always start with the same set up. On my right hand screen I pull up IQTell, in the middle I pull up BundlePost, and to my left I place Hootsuite and Buffer. This is a routine that is rarely deviated from. IQTell I have spoken about before and really love this tool, it brings so much organization to my daily routine. They recently updated the display and it is even more efficient now. Lets test drive the other tools in my tool kit. BundlePost is by far one of my favorite apps/software tools. The way it integrates with Hootsuite is great. Managing multiple accounts, and keeping up to date with great relevant content is what Bundlepost does best. It is also useful in so many other ways. Robert, Julia, Rich the BP team provide a great useful tool that is utilized by many social media professionals. Thanks to the BundlePost team for all that you do.

Hootsuite just keeps getting better and better in my humble opinion. An absolute must for those that really want to keep your social media accounts organized. They continue to integrate additional social media platforms, including Google Plus, it is one of the few that connects nicely with G+. I spend a good amount of time each day on Hootsuite. If you are serious with social media, it is well worth the extra money to add the Hootsuite University to your account. A great way to learn how to really utilize Hootsuite to it fullest.

I continue to get a lot of use from Buffer, another great tool for scheduling and monitoring multiple accounts. I tend to use Buffer more for add-ons, and Facebook posts. Both Hootsuite and Buffer provide toolbar buttons which makes sharing great content a snap. When it’s 2:00 AM and you find some awesome content that fits perfectly with a client’s recent blog post, using Buffer is a snap to schedule that content for a  better time for your client’s audience.

Add a Little Spice to the Mix.

Now throughout the day I will work with Tweetsprout, ManageFlitter, Twitter, Linkedin and FB, definitely Pinterest,  and probably Mailchimp as well. Throughout the rest of my day I will normally visit, Triberr, Steamfeed, Listly, Stumbleupon, Scoopit, Google reader, Evernote of course, and that is all pretty much before my noon break. Depending on the day, I will most likely pull up one of my WP press blogs, as well as Tweetchat to engage in some great twitter chat action. I am sure that the apps being mentioned are being utilized by many other of my Social Media friends. If not the same apps, variations of them depending on personal taste, likes, and dislikes. With the speed and volume of content we deal with each day, it is just about a necessity to survive.

On the Road Again

I find myself writing more and more these days, and I love to hit the road and find a quiet place to sit and write, for that all I need is my Galaxy Note smartphone, and my Freedom Pro mini keyboard. Utilizing the blue tooth connection between these two tools,  I can create content any time of the day. The freedom to write from any place in a comfortable, efficient manner is a great perk to this career. The addition of the keyboard really makes all the difference between using thumbs and actually typing – being able to utilize a fully functioning keyboard is so much more efficient.

apps

There’s nothing holding us down, or keeping us back these days. Entire companies are being run from laptops, smartphones and the apps that keep us moving forward in an efficient, productive manner. The sky is the limit, and you are limited only by your imagination. Technology and social media are changing the way the world communicates, and does business.

So what tools do you utilize in the course of your day? I always love to learn about what my colleagues are utilizing, so share your the tools you have in your business tool kit.

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix

What’s a “Facebook Fizzle” and why should you want to fix it?

So, you’ve got a great business, enthusiasm that rocks the planet, and you make the decision to jump onto social media.  Facebook is your most frequented hangout, because you’re already there hanging out with your friends.

You make your page.  Put up a few key posts.  And you’re ready to “go viral.”

Instead?

Fizzzzzzzzle…

Facebook Fizzles

photo: WAGirlInNC

There are reasons for this.  Ready to know some of them?

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix:

1. No Branded URL

When a page is first started, Facebook assigns a link, or URL, that is long and includes several letters and numbers.  It is hard to remember, and is a lot to look at!  Many Page Admins head into the wild social yonder with their good intentions and this crazy-long URL.  They’re so busy trying to accomplish brand awareness, that they forget one very easy branding opportunity.

The Fix: While it’s been rumored that some pages can begin with a custom or branded URL, for most, you can only arrange a vanity URL after you have at least 25 Likes for your page.  A number easily achieved.  Once you have those initial twenty-five, you should rush to https://www.facebook.com/username to assign and save a custom link for your brand.  Keep it as simple as possible, while reinforcing your business name.  This establishes credibility and brand recognition.  It is also easy to pass along to others.

Bonus: You can also get a vanity URL for your personal profile too!

2. Foot-Long Posts

When Facebook gave us the opportunity to use 5000 characters per post, this was good news, as sometimes there is just more than 250 characters to say.  However, in exploring Facebook, I frequently see well-meaning page owners posting their hearts out, with little or no “likes” for their posts.  Often these posts are wordy.

People are busy, and they want to be able to scan quickly and respond.  Many words does not fit in to the few seconds we have to grab fan attention.  Also remember that mobile users have a small screen and run through their news feed quickly.  So competition to reach fans is tougher here, with a consistently growing population.

The Fix: While you do have to say something great to get good response, there is also value to being clear and concise.  A study by Salesforce and Buddy Media revealed that posts with 80 characters or less get 23% more interaction.

3. Incorrect Grammar And Misspellings

Too often I see posts made with poor grammar and misspellings.  The one thing to remember when you are displaying content online is that this may be the only opportunity you get to make an impression on your audience. When people see mistakes and weak phrasings, they lose trust and often look elsewhere.

Hopefully your goal is to establish a level of trust with your Facebook community, and for them to see you as a credible source.

The Fix: Be sure the person writing and posting your Facebook content has excellent language skills and is a good speller.  Some report using Google Chrome for their automatic spell check.  If you want to be really sure, here’s a free tool that could help: http://www.gingersoftware.com/.

4. Social Greed

Are there a few individuals that post only as their brand on your page?  Others that always have a link to their own stuff in their comments?  Or, they’re all about, “Download my new Ebook,” or, “Read my book!”  How many assuming comments on our wall, or messages to our personal Inbox do we need to receive?  They are usually from a newer “friend” and go something like: “I’ve just published my new podcast, and I know you’re going to want to listen.  Please also share it with your friends/fans.”

Yikes – That’s like going on a date with an octopus!  And the quickest recipe for getting people to tune you out.  Fizzzzle…

Some are just beginning and are naive to how things really work.  This is forgiven.

The Fix: Interact on Facebook Pages as yourself – an ambassador of your business – and occasionally as your brand to instill brand awareness and recognition.  Optimally, you’ll want to frequent Pages where you can be a resource and add value to a conversation.  Share links other than your own, yet share your information when you have established some social clout with a group of people, and offering your link will not appear spammy.

Use tagging to give credit or attribute.  Appear “ungreedy” by responding to genuine tags and offering a thanks for the mention.  Even engage in the conversation.

5. Spammy Behavior

A lot of the behaviors mentioned above as “socially greedy” are considered spam.  Is your small business spamming other business brands on Facebook?

Everyone that owns a Facebook page wants people to visit it, like it, and frequent it.  But the reality is that people did not join Facebook specifically to get updates about your brand and your page.  Over-posting will result in unlikes and fans opting to hide your messages.

Are you tagged often on business flyers for their upcoming events?  Ouch – It hurts, doesn’t it?

The Inbox — Whether personal or on-page — Do you receive messages encouraging you to like pages, purchase new products, or hire people you’ve never met?  Fizzle!  Don’t you feel hit with a paint ball?

Not experiencing these things?  Maybe you’re the one doing it…?  If not, it’s only a matter of time before that tag, message or link arrives.

The Fix: Pretty much rinse and repeat the fix for Social Greed.  If you are new to Facebook, and learning social media etiquette, people understand.  It is the repetitive behavior that frustrates people.

So, The Five.

Are you ready to go out and Facebook “Fizzle Free?”

Any Fizzle-lous behaviors I missed listing above?

Please tell me your thoughts or any questions in the comments box below… :)

Get It Qwiqq!

Every once in a while you come across an app that is not only useful, but a whole lot of fun. With so many people taking pictures of their favorite products, foods and places, the founders of Qwiqq hit on an idea that incorporated the prolific world of smartphone cameras and sharing more than just the picture.

Qwiqq is a free app that integrates it’s own social network along with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Constant Contact to allow its users the ability to take a picture of their favourite items, add a description, a location and a price to accompany the picture. A word may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra pieces of info along for the ride.

I began using Qwiqq when it was only just out of the gate, thanks to a connection with its community manager reaching out to Social Media influencers in specific regions. Living on the West Coast of Beautiful British Columbia, my brain raced at ways this app could be used.

Qwiqq

Running off at the Thumbs

It started out with a picture of morning coffee at my favourite coffee shop and a snapshot of some seriously delicious signature macchiato muffins. A picture, little comment and a foursquare tag and it is off in cyber-space, shared on my favourite Social Media platforms. Within minutes, I had locals commenting on a sudden desire for macchiato muffins and my fellow coffee addicts in the #UsGuys stream talking about everything from the coffee bar view to the recyclable cups and sleeves being used.

Hmm. Not only did I just share out some great products from a local business, I got people talking about the business and the community. Isn’t that what Social Media marketing is all about?

Off I went! Visit to my favourite local resort to take pics of some clothing gear they had on sale, which lead to a friend in Texas asking for me to pick one up for her. Trip to the local fishing pier for one of their monster ice cream cones, which led to a family friends coming down to take in the view and goodies with me. Qwiqq pic of a passing cruise ship in the early evening was shared out by the local tourism promotion organization.

Down to Business

So how does this work for the small business, or even big business, owner? Simple. As with all Social Media environments, your very best brand ambassadors are not within the walls of your marketing office; it’s on the street with the people that are using or accessing your brand. This app shows your product, gives a price and tells the consumer where your product can be found.

Business can benefit by telling their patrons about the app and encouraging them to “be Qwiqq about it!” Before you know it, people will be chatting about your product and having fun doing it!

Choosing The Right Social Network For You

So, exactly how many social networks are there? Ok, I’ll admit there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a social network. While new social networks pop-up daily, there still remains a handful of major players.

social networkLet’s review them:

Facebook still holds the title as The Big Kid On The Block with over 1 Billion users.

The texting inspired network, Twitter is over 140 Million user strong, communicating in 140 characters or less.

With over 166 Million users, LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional contacts while sharing career highlights and accomplishments.

While kids from an Ivy League school did not start Google+ it was started by the world’s largest search engine, Google.

Also owned by Google, YouTube serves as the second largest search engine it actual classifies itself as a social network with 490 Million users.

Pinterest is a highly visual network that uses virtual pin boards to share interests, projects and pictures with their 20 Million users.

The location-based social network Foursquare has 20 million users checking-in and sharing their activity with friends.

Instagram currently holds the title as media darling; the mobile-based picture-sharing network with over 80 Million registered users is a rising star especially among young adults.

Tumblr is a little bit of everything rolled into one, this combination of text, image, video and audio content heavy blogging network has more than 50 Million users.

How do you know which one is right for you?

I am often asked by clients which social network should they be on? As any good strategist should tell you, that depends on your goals. By the way, who said you should limit yourself to JUST one?

Below are questions you should ask yourself before choosing a social network.

  1. What is your desired goal?
  2. How comfortable are you with sharing?
  3. Do you blog or have interest in blogging?
  4. Does your employer use social media?
  5. Are you looking for new career opportunities?
  6. Do you have a product or service to promote?
  7. Do you have a specific niche or target audience you desire to communicate with?
  8. Is your interest personal or professional?
  9. Do you enjoy people and have an interest in learning and growing as a person?
  10. And, are you ready to have lots of fun?
Ready to move forward with finding the right social network for you?

Professionally, if you are a small business owner then check out this post that shares thoughts from Steamfeed authors on tips to getting started.

Some thoughts on how to narrow down the choices for personal use:

  1. If you are a recent graduate, looking for your first job, a new job or wanting to change careers, I highly recommend LinkedIn.
  2. If you want to reconnect with old friends, family or classmates then Facebook might be the social network for you.
  3. If you enjoy crafts, home projects, recipes and you prefer pictures to words then I’d say go with Pinterest.
  4. If you fancy yourself as an amateur photographer, enjoy playing with camera filters and your smartphone is never more than 3 feet from you, you are all about Instagram.
  5. Do you enjoy creating content and have an interest in blogging but you have not yet committed to a style, take Tumblr out for a spin.
  6. Do you work for Google, use Gmail or are you passionate about technology? Google+ may be right up your ally.
  7. Do you like sharing your movement around town, are into checking-in and recording your whereabouts? Give Foursquare a shot.
  8. If you are into making, watching or sharing videos then you need to check out Youtube.
  9. If you can communicate in 140 characters or less, like meeting people with similar interest and you have content to share then you my friend need to head over to Twitter.

As an advocate for social media, my first goal is to make clients comfortable with the medium. I want my clients to value the benefits social networks offer both individuals and businesses.  I can only encourage usage so much; at some point you either love it or leave it. Here’s to you finding the right network(s).

What is your favorite social network and why do you love it so? Please leave a comment below!

How To Be Social With Social Media

When you mention social media, some people  immediately think about Facebook. And because of this, some business owners think that a social media strategy is dependent on the social network you participate in. However, the ‘social’ part of ‘social media’ is the same on every network.

social media

The one way social media message

Many companies are treating social media the same way as they would treat Television or Radio advertising. Some companies think they can just create some ad, share it on multiple social networks repeatedly, and get results from it. But social media simply doesn’t work that way. Why? Because social media is about people who want to gather informally and be social!

People are tired of receiving a one-way message from companies. Nobody wants to go on Facebook to “like” a brand if all the company does is talk about itself. So what are you, as a company, going to do about it? Here are a few ideas that might help you get on the social media ‘bandwagon’:

  1. Social comes from within. Companies that are fun and energetic, and that live a social culture outside of social media will be the ones that thrive on social networks.
  2. Shut up, and listen to what your customers are saying. After that, share content that they like. If you’re sharing content that your customers don’t care about, nobody will listen.
  3. Engage with your customers. Let them know that you are there, and that you are relevant to them.
  4. Provide value in your content. Don’t simply post company updates if your customers don’t receive value from it. Share stories, case studies, white papers, coupons, entertaining videos, etc.
  5. Be transparent. Show your customers what you’re made of. Be authentic. Show personality. Show gratitude to your customers, let them know you care!
  6. Always respond to comments, whether they are good, bad, or ugly.
  7. Be ready to relinquish control. Your customers have a story, let them tell it. Embrace content from others, and grow your community.
  8. Most importantly, be remarkable! Playing it safe is the riskiest thing you can do. If you play it safe on social media, you’ll most likely become boring, and your fans will be non-existent. So spice it up, take a risk, and do something remarkable!

Notice how I never mention a specific social network in this list? It’s because social is irrelevant to the ‘media’ (network). Choose the channel that is most suitable for you, and apply the above list to it. Doesn’t matter if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, all of the above apply to any network. Crazy huh?

So what is your advice for social media? Do you take a holistic approach to it, or do you focus on each individual networks independently? Please share in the comments bellow!

Is Your Small Business Spamming Other Business Brands on Facebook?

What – Small Business Owners Would Spam Other Business Brands??

In my role as an online community manager I see many ways of doing things on Facebook.  Occasionally I’ll see something that teaches me.  That’s a bonus – And one of the reasons I love what I do!

However…

image: Virtual Pizza

Social Media Etiquette

More often I see concerning online behaviors.  These acts are usually made by small business owners or entrepreneurs that fit into these categories:

  • Self-marketing.
  • New to social media.
  • Not educated on social media etiquette.
  • Employing old-school techniques, expecting new media results.

Rarely do I meet a small business owner that purposely wants to engage in concerning behavior.  They usually do not know they have blurred the lines of social media etiquette, but once they are made aware, they are happy to take actions that makes other social networkers smile.

Lets look at some examples of online behavior that blur the lines of Facebook etiquette.

Otherwise known as…

Spam

1. Posting self-promotional content on another page without invitation.

Social Media is about building a relationship.  Not broadcasting, or the “hit and run.”  If you reverse the roles, how would you feel if another Page Admin came out of nowhere and posted their self-promotional content on your page?

The Reality:

The only people who see these messages are the Page Admins and anyone that might catch your post in their ticker because you are connected as friends.  Here, your audience is limited.  You are just offending the Page Admins, and they will probably delete it quickly.  So, it’s a high-energy move with little visibility, anyway.

Actionable Advice:

Visit Facebook Pages with the intention of building some friendships and relationships with hopeful collaborators.  Take part in conversation by liking and commenting on post threads.  Visit as yourself, your person, and occasionally as your brand (your page).  Be someone people want to know, like, and trust as an ambassador of your business.  Be the life of the party, prompting people to ask you questions.  Avoid the promotional message and posting your page link in the comment thread unless invited to do so.

2. Sending “Like My Page” or “Purchase My Service” direct messages to the brand on their page.

This is very similar to item #1, but in a more private mode.  The Page Admin has to actually go into the Inbox and respond or perform extra action.

Some social media leaders compare this move to trying to get to third base on a first date.  Reverse the roles again – How do you feel if someone sends “Like My Page” or “Click My Junk” messages to your Facebook Page’s inbox?

The Reality:

Again, very similar to #1, yet sometimes more annoying.

Actionable Advice:

Woah – Date a Page Admin a bit!  Take your hands off the like button, and talk to them a little bit!!  Same goes here: Create a relationship that will lead to collaboration, and you can share all the messages you want.  Provide links & promotional details when asked.  If you network well, you will be asked.

3. Posting frequently on a page only as your brand (your page).

The opportunity to interact on Facebook as your brand (your page) is a terrific feature!  It allows you to create recall of your business name.  At the same time, the purpose of engaging on social media is to create relationships.  A small business owner’s goal should be to create and instill the “know/like/trust factor.”

The Reality:

If a Page Admin sees only your brand name, they don’t know WHO to like and trust.  Further, if you are there very frequently in this mode, you could appear spammy and even out of line.  Some would take this as an attempt to “cherry-pick” fans.

Actionable Advice:

By allowing fans and Page Admins to learn about your brand, and get to know you – the ambassador of your business – your chances of creating long-lasting, productive relationships are greater.  You then actually get TWO chances to make a good impression.  People know where to find your business, and they know who should receive their questions.  Perhaps to the Facebook Page inbox – as a well-earned business lead!  :)

4. Frequent tagging of the same page or pages.

Have you posted a picture of a sale flyer, and tagged all of your favorite pages?  Have you found a really groovy photo and tagged many pages when the image or subject matter really has nothing to do with that page?

Reality:

If so, you’re guilty of spamming a page with a tag!  The Page Admin sees this tag, and is probably confused at first.  A friendly sort would hop over and leave a nice comment or a like.  But if you keep doing this, it is annoying and bothersome, and even self-serving.  This will result in less people paying attention to your messages – The reverse of your ultimate goal.

Actionable Advice:

Use tags to give tribute, or recognize someone or a brand that is in an image.  It is a gesture to show honor.  From time to time it is okay to gather some good business friends together to comment on a fun image.  Every once in awhile.  Many times per week is excessive.  Once per month…maybe.  Make it a periodic celebration instead!

So, is your small business spamming other business brands on Facebook?

No Playing Games

My analogy of the social actions above: “online knock-knock split.”  The equivalent of reaching out with no one there to follow-up.

This is broadcasting – A one-way communication.  Social media is all about a two-way dialogue.  Facebook is no exception.

Hopefully the actionable advice has been helpful in identifying appropriate social media etiquette.

If you are newer to social media, do you have questions?

If you are more seasoned, did you ever unknowingly do any of what is described above?

Please share your thoughts in the comments box below! :D

5 Priorities Every Social Media Program Should Have

I want to start this post with a little bit of clarity by defining the term “Priority”. Webster’s say’s it is something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives. One thing I have learned in life is that no matter what comes out of your mouth, your actions will always follow your true priorities. You can say this or that are a priority, but if your actions show something else, you have a problem.

social media prioritiesOne reason that many newcomers to social media marketing lack priorities is not because of laziness or lack of desire, it is simply lack of knowledge – the understanding of what tasks actually need to have priority in their day.

Often times businesses struggle with not only understanding all the in’s and out’s of social media marketing, but more importantly where they should prioritize their time and efforts. This often results in new social media marketers over pitching what they do, or worse, giving up and abandoning their social media efforts. Let’s avoid both by listing the top five priorities your social media marketing efforts should focus on each day.

These are in no particular order of importance, however all of them should be given priority and attention daily.

1) Value – Provide value to your target audience.

Your daily focus should be to deliver selfless value to your target market. How can your social media marketing provide value to your audience? Answer that question without regard to what you do, what you sell, or the industry you are in. Answer and execute that question correctly and you will see huge results!

2) Content – Have enough content and the RIGHT content.

Think of social media as a freeway. All of the cars on the freeway are content, posts and articles. You have to have enough content on the road everyday that is relevant, valuable and interesting to your target audience. You need to make sure that whenever one of your fans, friends or followers step up to the side of the freeway throughout the day, they see one of your cars go by.

3) Be Human – People build relationships with other People.

A big mistake a lot of new social media marketers make is trying to mimic the big brands. For the most part, big brands SUCK at social media. They do not do it right and for many, they don’t have to. They have spent billions on branding and marketing well ahead of the social media boom, therefore it is just another channel. Everyone else needs to do it right if they want results!

You have to humanize your social media accounts. Most people connect and build relationships with other people. Can you really have a relationship with a logo of a company you don’t even know? Of course not. Be human and approachable.

4) Respond/Engage - Social media marketing is social.

You must make it a priority to respond to mentions, shares and comments immediately. When someone shares a post or mentions you in social media, they are available and active at that moment. You need to respond quickly in order to foster a conversation that leads to relationship. Waiting for once a day or an hour later is just too late. They have moved on, logged out or even lost interest. If you aren’t utilizing mobile apps to ensure you can consistently do this, it is not a priority to you.

You also need to have a priority of commenting, sharing and mentioning your target audience frequently. Relationships are two ways. Seek opportunity to benefit your prospects by sharing their content, engaging them in conversation or simply commenting on something they post.

5) Community – Build one.

Your social media marketing must have a priority focused on building a loyal community. That community must be large enough to be effective. Find your target audience and follow/friend them. Build it and they will come does not work in social media.

As you can see, social media is highly involved. Understanding the priorities you need to have on a daily basis is the difference between being IN social media and having an effective social media marketing program for your business.

What is your biggest priority in social media? Please leave a comment below!
 

Say No to Shortcuts

Whenever we got into the car with my dad for a trip that was not part of our normal routine, we got ready for adventure. Why? It wasn’t so much that our destination was that adventurous. It was the trip itself. My dad loved to devise shortcuts. The problem? They never shortened travel time. They either increased the time we spent in the car, or increased time spent in the car AND got us lost.

ShortcutsI often see the same thing happening with newer social business journeys. The driver gets excited by apps, tools and other shortcuts “guaranteed” to grow their fan/follower/connection base in a lightning quick fashion. Unfortunately, many of these shortcuts lead that social business driver on a merry chase full of wrong turns, detours and one way only avenues that end up with the driver lost and unsure where they are or how to get home.

“With record speed” and “get it fast” are phrases bandied about by many an app/online tool developer ready to promise you a shortened journey. The problem is that successful social endeavors require that you take active part in the journey. Shortcuts, while seemingly faster, often take you in divergent directions that detract from the real reasons your engaging in social business.

  1. Relationships can’t be rushed. They build in their own unique time. Relationships that result in business are built on trust. Trust can’t be rushed.
  2. Social business relies on stories rather than sales tactics, telling rather than selling. What happens when you speed through a story? Key points get missed. The listener finds themselves unsure of the plot, the message. Sharing stories takes time.
  3. While sharing is an integral part of social business, you can’t just share anything. It’s vital that you read and assess each item you think you might want to share. Rapid fire shares and retweets without reading often create bad business buzz. You might share a dead link, spam or worse – information that is completely outdated or off base.

Yes, it’s important to build a following – you want someone to see and appreciate that great information you’re creating and sharing. But you can’t rush. All likes are not created equal. Same goes for followers on Twitter and circles on Google+.

While Facebook like parties are going strong, as are ladder events, don’t rush to like hundreds of pages to get several hundred likes in return. You might get the numbers, but will you get:

  • People who will actively take part in discussions?
  • Content worthy of sharing?
  • People willing to share your good content?
A recent blog post on this very topic started a lively discussion about these like building events and the people who take part. You can read it here.

While the idea that you must follow to be followed on Twitter is basically sound, again – you don’t want to just click the “follow” button without real intent. Michael Hyatt states that “the higher your follower count, the more people assume you are an expert”, and therein lies the quandary for us. Do you want to be an “assumed” expert, that assumption based solely on one number? Or, would you rather be known as an expert based on the ideas, tips and tools shared? I’ll state openly that I prefer to work toward the latter.

Numbers for the sake of bigger numbers don’t have any real ROI. And yes, as much as social business is about the relationship over the sale, you have to consider and track ROI. There’s a purpose to the building of that relationship (see what Social Media Examiner has to say on the topic), one that your boss really wants to see well documented.

Shortcuts don’t build the types of numbers that help you put together the reports your boss, even if you’re the boss, wants to see. Careful planning, attention to detail and good old hard work build the relationships that build the numbers that net you positive ROI. Skip the shortcuts and get busy creating that plan of action!

How You Build a Social Media Community Matters

Social Media “white hat” and “black hat” techniques continue to embroil controversy. I am still amazed at the conversations that I have had on various Social Media platforms surrounding building a business social media community. Many of you may know the terms “black hat” and “white hat” within the social media world. For those that don’t, let me explain. “Black hat” can best be described as a practice executed by a social media professional that “games” the system. More directly, it is being dishonest in your social media techniques. Black hat techniques are often employed to get results faster, and have far less actual social engagement (aka “work”).  ”White hat” techniques are exactly the opposite. Another term often substituted with “white hat” is “organic”. Using organic practices is really the optimal way to acquire results. It is also a much safer way to build a social media community. Employing black hat techniques can have undesired consequences, such as what happened to JC Penny a few years ago, earning them a “time out” from Google.

Black Hat Social MediaThink about this scenario, especially if you are building a community for a business. You build this nice community, paying no attention to how you do it, and all of a sudden you’re caught and your client’s account is suspended from Google, Twitter or Facebook. How are you going to explain that the phenomenal results you have been reporting to your client each month were gotten by questionable and inorganic practices? You may have been smart enough to figure out how to game the system, but now you will most likely lose that client.

Here are a few examples of black hat practices:

Don’t Spam!

Let’s start with the biggest offender of all, SPAM. Spam can best be described as a constant barrage of links, hundreds throughout a day, with no conversation in the feed, no engagement, and no interaction.  This is especially annoying on Twitter where the feed rolls through like a freight train. Those that employ this technique clearly are not paying attention to the “social” part of social media.

Buying friends and followers is not OK!

The latest and greatest black hat technique to come along is buying friends/followers. Many times, throughout the day, I see feeds or DM’s inviting me to “get 10,000 followers in a day” Or elaborate plans to build your Facebook “likes” for just $29.95. These accounts of course are not real people, and are only sought after to boost ones follower number. This (more than any other practice) “pisses me off”. I recently was introduced to a system called “twitter seeds”, which as it was explained to me was okay because these accounts supposedly are real people. The seed accounts are used to manipulate a twitter accounts friend to follower ratio. I have to say that I was equally flawed by both the idea and the notion of the practitioner that it was a white hat technique. Buying accounts, whether real or otherwise is not organic, and not an accepted social media practice…period.  Both this and the aforementioned practice are completely and without question Black Hat.

If you are keen on spending money to acquire new followers, invest in social advertising (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn ads). You will be spending a lot more than buying fake followers, but you’ll be getting real people that are actually interested in your offering in return – a much more worthy investment, in my opinion.

What about automation?

The one place that there is some acceptance of grey area, would be automation. Many social media managers who maintain multiple accounts make use of automation tools. It is whether those same managers take it to next step and engage that matters. It gets fuzzy when a person, who is using keywords to engage a particular audience and choosing content himself or herself, as opposed to complete bot content, is choosing the outbound content. The use of bots (computer-generated content) is highly frowned upon – a bot would never be considered organic. However, utilizing an automation tool to organize content that has been chosen by a person is a whole other story.

In the end, other than clear black hat techniques such as mentioned above, many techniques and practices come down to intentions, and application. It really does come down to this:  if you have to talk yourself into believing the practice is acceptable, it most certainly isn’t. The best and most reliable results come from white hat/organic techniques. Don’t fall into a black hat trap.

If you’re interested in this topic, you might find these articles from other websites interesting: