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!

Why (and How) to Join Tweetchats

Tweetchats are special gatherings that happen on Twitter.

They’re driven by a hashtag that charactertizes the conversation topic, but more importantly, there’s a community around the hashtag that keeps it very much alive.

Tweetchat Cocktail PartyTweetchats are extremely informative, keep you up to date on current trends, supportive and social. I can’t say enough good things about them. A frequently used metaphor to explain Twitter is how it is like a digital cocktail party, but tweetchats truly bring meaning to this description. People even enjoy pretending they’re passing around drinks or munchies (or disclose what they’ve actually brought to the laptop) as they greet each other. Chats are one hour long events that happen at pre-determined times once a week, but the conversation can carry on by using the same hashtag. Plus, if you decide to join one, you’ll find some have Facebook groups.  Most of them have featured guests every week for the audience to interact with, learn and ask questions. You’ll find many industry experts are a lot of fun and thrilled to join the conversation.

Necessities

Other than a pair of limber hands, Tweetchat.com, and setting up a stream in Hootsuite are my favorite tools and usually the most popular. I especially love tweetchat.com because it’s fast, you can feature or block users, pause, set your pace for refreshing speed and it automatically adds the hashtag at the end of your tweet to ensure it shows up in the stream. Log in with your Twitter account and type the hashtag you’d like to follow in the search box. Important: with any tool you use you want to have visibility of mentions so you can respond (it’s not that hard to miss them in a quick tweetchat)!

If you have to use mobile (or prefer it because you have some amazingly strong and fast thumbs) you want to download the app Echofron (available for Apple products). Hootsuite is available for Apple and Droids and offers the same functionality to filter tweets based on the hashtag.

Hashtracking is a neat analytics tool if you’re a numbers kind of person or needs to deliver them. Features include information on impressions, reach, tweets, the top participants and influencers that were involved with the chat.

How many do I want to attend?

Before you start participating, you might want to “lurk” by following the stream to get an idea. Most first impressions are overwhelmed with the speed (but it becomes manageable)!  How many you should attend a week is your decision. People can go high in double digits while some stick with a couple a week. Chats are either scheduled during the workday or evenings.

Personally, I was addicted once I started. It was an unbelievable way to improve my knowledge, ask questions and make righteous friends I’ve had the honor of meeting in real life (or intend to). I go to Twitter to….hang out! Just like you go to a friend’s house, coffee shop or book club. It does take up a chunk of your time so after many months, I started narrowing it down to a just a few a week. Just one can enrich your online experience. I stay in touch with people or moderators I’ve bonded with out of tweetchats. After all, as Dan told us, we don’t abandon relationships!
 

Which tweetchats do I go to?

Some of the killer social media and marketing tweetchats with amazing, intelligent, kind and welcoming moderators include:

  • #MobileChat – @MarketingMusing & @Redeapp – This is somewhat new, and is growing rapidly. Learn about the trends and future of mobile (Wednesdays 9 PM EST)
  • #MediaChat – @kilby76 – About online media, new apps and anything media related! Full of #bacon lovers. (Thursdays 10 PM EST)
  • #BlogChat – @MackCollier – Tips and strategies to improve personal and corporate blogging. (Sundays 9 PM EST)
  • #AWEtalk – @margieanalise – The Mojo Diva helps women entrepreneurs with their millionarieness mojo, but cool guys are welcome! (Mondays 11 PM EST)
  • #PinChat – @Tribe2point0 – For avid Pinterest users to share information, trends and more. (Fridays 9 PM EST)
  • #LinkedinChat – @LinkedinExpert – All things you want to know on LinkedIn. (Tuesdays 8 PM EST)
  • #Brandchat – Variety of topics related to managing and growing brands – corporate, non-profits, etc. (Wednesdays 11 PM EST)

I could go on and on. Actually, there is this giant Google document floating around with hundreds of chats, names and times but I recommend doing personal research. You can ask your peers for suggestions that fits your interests. Do keyword research on Twitter and see what hashtags appear.  After some listening you will notice some tweets are populated with certain hashtags more than others.

List.ly has an amazing list of resources to help your expedition! Store this link.

What if I can’t find a tweetchat I’m interested in?

Well, well. That is a fine opportunity for you to begin your own! I still strongly encourage you gain experience in tweetchats and establish (or maintain) an active presence on Twitter.  With over 700 chats to date for various industries, causes and groups, there’s likely something for you. But if you can dedicate yourself and bring fresh ideas (and hashtag), it’s a remarkable way to build your community base, promote your brand and business. Check out this great guide to hosting a chat.

You’re going to have a blast. Please feel free to ask us if you want more names for chats for social media and marketing. If you have some you’re fond of then share the details in your comment! 

What’s your favorite tweetchat? 

 

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:

 

How to convert Twitter followers into leads

When it comes to converting Twitter followers into leads, the secret to success is trial and error. The more you experiment with different social networks, the more you experiment with content, the more you experiment with timing, the better understanding you will get of what works and doesn’t work for YOUR company. You could try some of these tactics, and see if they work for you:

twitter followersTarget your Twitter followers

One really important thing that I have found helpful is to make sure that your followers are 100% targeted. If you’re a marketing company selling your services to small business owners, FOLLOW SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS. Don’t waste your time following big name industry leaders that won’t ever speak to you or acknowledge your presence online. Instead, connect with people that actually care about what you have to say.

  • Use Twellow.com to find people to follow. It works as a yellowpages for Twitter. Follow people that you think could be a potential customer. If you’re relevant to them, they’ll most likely follow back.
  • Use the #hashtag search tool on SocialBro.com. It will show you around 1,000 Twitter users that actively use the #hashtag. Explore users. Check how many people follow them, and how many people they follow back. Check their tweets as well. If you don’t see any ‘via @’ mentions, re-tweets, or any conversations actually taking place in their last 10-15 tweets, they’re not worthy of your follow. They only want to promote their own message, and won’t actually develop a business relationship with you.

Make sure your Twitter followers are online!

A tweet usually doesn’t last very long. And if your Twitter followers aren’t online to read your tweet, then your message will be lost.

  • You can listen to some studies, and try optimal times if you want, but large studies are generalized results. They may work for you, and they may not. However, using specific tools like Tweriod.com and SocialBro.com will show you when YOUR OWN FOLLOWERS are online. This is when you should be tweeting.
  • Take your optimized times, and schedule your content at those times using tools like Hootsuite or BufferApp. Scheduling your content ahead of time will make it easier for you to manage comments later on in the day. Scheduling content should only take about 30-60 minutes of your day, the rest of the time you should be conversing with your Twitter followers.

Ask the right questions

What I see too often are people that say Twitter is not generating any business for them. When you look at their Twitter accounts, they’re not asking any questions, or having any conversations of any sort. Quotes won’t generate business.

  • If someone mentions you on Twitter, or re-tweets your content, thank them and initiate a conversation – ask them how they’re doing. Most people will answer ‘Good’, but if they answer ‘So busy, I don’t even know what to do’, or ‘Good, but I think I need a vacation’, this is your key to jump in. Ask them why they’re so busy, and if you can help in any way. They might just be looking for your offering.
  • Listen to #hashtags that are related to your industry. Often people will ask questions that you can answer. They’ll appreciate the help. Your job is to keep the conversation going, and follow up on a regular basis. If something else comes up, you’ll be there to offer help again. This will build a relationship, and when this person needs your service, you’ll be someone they’ll think of.
  • Listen to your competitors, and what their clients are saying. If a client is complaining, swoop in and ask if there’s anything you can do instead to help. They’ll be impressed.

Make sure your content converts

A quote does not convert a reader into a lead, there’s no link. Your own advice in 140 characters does not convert, there’s no link. Make sure that some of the content you put out reaches back to your website.

  • Vary your content.  Make sure some of your content links back to your site, but also share other people’s content. Social media is not meant for advertising your own message all the time.
  • Make sure that the content you share from your website or blog is conversion friendly. Have a newsletter signup sheet, a contact form, a free download, a quote form, an email subscription to your blog, etc., right at the top of your page, so people can clearly see the conversion form. Don’t put it at the bottom, or people won’t see it. If there’s no conversion form on your blog or website, your traffic won’t convert to a potential lead.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you’ve used before to help convert twitter followers into leads? Do you have any tips or tricks to convert users of other social networks into leads (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)? Please leave your comments below!

Join the Revolution – Revitalize Your Twitter Bio

I let out a sigh of exasperation every time I see a Twitter bio that reads something like “Hire me to help manage/service your #Twitter acct and generate targeted #followers!” or “Hire me to skyrocket your online business and watch the #money roll in.” It’s painfully obvious that they hashtagged in skewed hope… hope that they would find someone searching for #money or #followers to pay them.

Words in a twitter bioI wonder, isn’t there more to you? 

A Twitter bio is like a storefront. It sets the stage for future interactions. If it’s intriguing more people are likely to go in your space. Do they have much else to go on? No!

It took me a number of rewrites to come to a happy place with mine.  I know you’re just using words but how you craft your words reflects who you are instead of telling. I want you to look at your bio and see how you can revitalize it.

Keep your audience in mind 

Don’t be challenging or overly clever – in other words, a smart ass, pardon me :-) (i.e. “impress me with your ___”). Recruiters, customers or prospects don’t want to deal with that. If  you have a business, be specific. The simple word “entrepreneur” or “consultant” on its own makes it tough to ignite a conversation let alone develop a relationship or community. Combining facts about you and your personality is a solid framework.

Avoid laundry lists

At least it should not account for your entire twitter bio. For example, “Father, husband, surfer, Thai food lover, jazz musician and digital marketer.” Seems like a nice enough guy that keeps busy, no? Listing your likes and hobbies is acceptable but why not reveal a quirk to spice up the list? Such as slurpees (hello, nice to meet you, I’m a self confessed slurpee lover).

Use a thesaurus.

Use short bursts of sentences and titillating words. Substitute “like” or “passion” with “fervor.” You could even pull off cleverly made up words.  Tribber co-founder Dino Dogan’s bio ends with “Global Force of Badassery. Hi.” I wrap up with “V/Blogger addicted to adrenaline.” You’ll captivate your audience.

Know that no matter what you do, it doesn’t have to be dull!

I’ve seen in a bio the following statement: “I have an unhealthy obsession with CTA buttons.” I would not question if the person was passionate about website design. Nicely done.

Update it to show the latest version of you

You are dynamic by nature. Your personal and professional experiences and interests change over time so don’t let your bio become stagnant.

My fellow authors of Steamfeed want to annihilate those inauthentic people with the hard selling Twitter bios that I introduced in the beginning. The authors and I are curious about who you are and care about building relationships and simply helping. Concocting your bio is one way to join us in this revolution and we shall see the fake sellers fade away!

What is your Twitter bio? How could you improve it using some of the advice mentioned above? Please leave a comment below!