Is Your Twitter Preview Selling You Short?

When I first ventured into Twitter, it was hard to discern who to follow and why I should pay attention to certain people and accounts. I sought out people with backgrounds in PR, social media, retail, marketing, and other areas in which I wanted to become knowledgeable in as well as share my knowledge.

TwitterOne thing quickly became apparent — not everyone uses Twitter in the same way. And that is a good thing for the most part. But more and more I continue to see people and brands using Twitter as a broadcast tool and not an engagement tool.

Traditional media is all about the broadcast method. It’s push marketing. Social media is about engagement, interaction, and exchange. It’s pull marketing at its finest. It has the ability to draw in prospects and customers. It provides brands and individuals the ultimate means to court opportunity. Social media shortens the distance between you and your customer, and your product or service and the end user.

But what happens when you are scrolling through Twitter and come across a brand account or individual to connect with and their feed is cluttered with posts that scream, “It’s all about me!” For instance, there are no posts where a customer is offered help or assistance. There is no evidence of discussion about the latest news from Mashable. In fact, there are no replies to anyone. Instead the feed consists of retweets and self-promotion. Not exactly a giant “Welcome” mat, is it?

Mark W. Schaefer said at the Social Media Masters (#SMM) conference I attended in Toronto last year, “If your website is the movie, let Twitter be your trailer.” Your Twitter profile and the handful of tweets in view when someone pulls up your profile should give your next potential follower a hint of what’s to come. Your Twitter profile especially as it appears on a mobile device only gives a snapshot of what they will see and be subject to once they click the “follow” button.

Your Twitter preview, or trailer, sets the stage for the ultimate big show — your website. Use Twitter to position your brand as the brand of choice. Stand out against your competitors and build credibility and authority with every tweet. This Twitter snapshot should present your brand as accurately as possible. Are you driven by customer service? Are you driven by the best products in the industry? Give future customers enough intrigue to click through to your website where you drive the sale. Manage the relationship and leverage your social presence to keep your audience in the seats right through to the end credits.

What would be your recommendation to a brand trying to improve their Twitter presence? 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!

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!
 

Nice Guys Finish First in Social Media

The way people interact has changed dramatically ever since social media has been a part of business.

It’s 2005…

Social Media NetworkingWe just met and it’s finally my turn to speak but you keep on nodding your head and saying “yup” over and over again while looking in every direction but mine. You have no idea what I’m saying because you’re not listening to me. You and your ego had a good run but the times are changing my friend…

2012 – The World Has Changed. Enter Social Media.

No longer can one spew nonsense and expect to build quality relationships. You can no longer be a self-promoter – social media simply doesn’t work that way. If you’re not engaging with people in a positive manner you will probably be unfollowed by many on a daily basis. People appreciate manners and common courtesy online. Here are a few things you could do to polish up your online manners:

Engage

It takes time and commitment, but if you engage with your followers and even reach out to new people on a regular basis, your network will grow and rise in value. If people tweet at you, comment on your blog, or post on your Facebook page, you need to take the time to respond to them. Being nice goes a long way. These people will become some of your biggest supporters in the future.

Be Helpful

The more you give in social media, the more you will receive down the road. Go out of your way to help people. People remember these moments, especially when they’re just starting out.

Be Personal

It’s simple but true – let people get to know the real you. Social media is all about sharing and listening. You don’t have to be all business all the time. You can maintain your brand while sharing tidbits of your personal life. Just make sure you keep it clean (don’t share pictures or comments you wouldn’t share with your Grandma).

Be Kind & Genuine

You’re no longer in competition with just the person down the street. Your competition is always one click away from setting up shop. Separate yourself by going above and beyond, which includes being kind on a day to day basis. Courtesy goes a long way.

The bottom line is if you take the time to consistently care about others, your reputation and network will reflect that over time.

 

We Need To Talk About Our Relationship

Engagement is a big buzzword in social media right now. It is a very important part of using social media. Many people, myself included, have written about engagement. This post is not about engagement. This post is about relationships.

The Step Beyond Engagement

The question is, how do you go about forming those relationships? Relationship building is not just strategy alone, it is a combination of strategy along with engagement, time, effort, personality and serendipity. Building relationships online is just like how you build relationships in the offline space. Let’s start with the, admittedly cliché reference …but it works

social media relationship cocktail partyThe Cocktail Party

You do not expect to walk into a cocktail party and expect to come out with a new “bestie”, but walking in is the first step to becoming introduced to new people. Think of social media as a giant party organized into rooms. You can choose to go into the Twitter room, Facebook room, Google+ room, and so on. Each “room” can be divided into smaller groups to focus on a different interest.

Find Your Group

Get to know people in your chosen room who have similar interests to you and what you do, and start by connecting with them. Once you start building these communities, to get to know people by using that good old Magic E word, engagement. Get involved in Twitter chats, Facebook groups and even offline events with people from your social media “room”.  The more you connect with this group of people and grow and evolve you’ll find natural relationships growing with a few people. The conversations get more comfortable and go beyond the normal social media small talk.

It’s Who You Know

A great way to grow communities and nurture your relationships is to introduce people, but not just a bulk mention or tag. A Follow Friday mention on Twitter is not relationship building. It is however, a way to introduce people to others. But tell people why. Bring people into a conversation you are having that you think they would be a great contribution to. Invite a new social media acquaintance to  an offline event you think they would enjoy. Introduce two people you think should meet, in whatever channel you choose.

Make New Friends

Some of the people I am closest to across the social channels are people who have been introduced to me by another person I have a great relationship with online. We get to know each others’ personalities, likes and quirks when we form those relationships.  When you are at that social party, find those two friends that both share an interest in a charitable cause,  or Dr Who, or funny hashtags – whatever that thing is that you can identify will bring them together.

Help Me, Help You

These relationships that form across social media, as with offline relationships, will form a natural want and need to help one another. I have friends who I send job posts to, friends who I always share what they post, and people whose charities and personal endeavors I help support, not because I expect them to do the same for me (however that does happen) I do those things because it helps out my friends.

These people in your inner circle become your advocates and allies, and you never know where that will take you.

How do you grow relationships across social channels? What else would you add to my list? Please leave a comment below!

Blitz Posting is not an Effective Social Media Practice

Social Media is not about Blitz posting (you know the folks I am talking about). Some people do absolutely no engaging with their social media community. They simply go on one of their many social networking accounts, and post about 10 to 20 posts all in a row, in the manner of a machine gun: One right after the other – Bam, Bam, Bam…

fine bottle of wine, like social mediaThis approach to social media is about the same as drinking a fine bottle of wine all in one gulp, just to get it out-of-the-way. Let’s talk about this and what you are actually accomplishing when practicing Blitz posting.

You are not engaging!

You are not by any stretch of the word “engaging” with your community. Engaging in social media means responding and posting relevant information that your community is going to relate to, and trigger some sort of conversation. How are you encouraging engagement if you are firing off one post after another? You would be much better off posting at different intervals and engaging when someone responds. Be a person, not a robot, for goodness sakes. I mean really, how many social robots do you know?

You are affecting your SEO, in a negative way!

By bombarding the space all at one time, you are gaining no SEO whatsoever. Part of SEO is about posting a particular subject topic (keyword) on a consistent basis. Consistent is not meant to be interpreted by flooding the space with a ton of repeated mentions (that’s the same as keyword stuffing in my book).

You are spamming!

Finally, when it comes down to it, you are spamming the space. Social media is not about annoying people. Disagreeing politely, general discussion, etc., are all acceptable ways of engaging in social media. However, flooding the timeline with post after post is simply rude – STOP IT!

There I feel better now. What do you think about these blitz posters…?

Here are some articles you might find interesting from other websites:

The Three E’s of Social Media Management

Every social media and community manager sets a certain set of rules and guidelines for how they want to run their community. I have a set of super simple standards (say that three fast!). I never sat down and wrote them out before, but I noticed whenever I would speak about social media management or would discuss social for business, these three words always came out as highlighted points. Entertaining, Engaging and Educational. All of my blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts follow at least one (if not more) thank these three principles:

Be Witty, Be Entertaining in Social Media ManagementEntertaining – Entertaining often equals memorable. You need to find a way to keep people entertained. In the fast pased world of Twitter, a great way to catch people’s attention is to be witty. With such a small character limit, a bot mot or catchy post title floating in a sea of links will be the post most remembered. Use humor when you can. Long or short, make sure there is something fun about your posts.

Engaging – The word “Social” in social media says it all. Don’t look at your social media channels as a billboard to advertise your product or service, it is a place for discussion and sharing. Join a Twitter chat or Facebook group to get to know people in the community you want to be a part of. Forming these relationships with others will be beneficial to everyone.

Educational – When you have knowledge in a niche or have a new way to do something, social is a great place to share. Start a blog about a subject you are skilled in or post tips across your social channels. Sharing this information with others is a great way to position yourself as the go to person for information on that topic.

Another guideline I follow is, no matter what the post is, it needs to keep in line with the standards I have created both with my personal brand as well as my employer’s.

What are your guidelines for social media management? Please share in the comments bellow!

Shaping Your Branded Sphere

5 Facets in Your Marketing

We all see in our own lives a sphere of influence that we have in our small interpersonal relationships. Is this not the case for our brands within our marketplace sphere? The connection between different channels of communication, visual data/input and tone/messaging creates a unique shape of who we are. This differentiated shape becomes that understandable piece to those around us. Who, what and how we are. If you look at science and mathematics you will see that shapes, whether tangible or intangible, scatter that landscape. They depict outcomes, journeys and predictions. Looking at a branded company as a similar entity we can see that there are parallel patterns. The shapes have facets that require each plane to support its adjacent plane in order to exist in the space cohesively, balanced and effective. What are these facets?

Branded Sphere

Photo: Engage

5 Facets of Your Company Brand:

                        1. Branding
                        2. Web Presence
                        3. Engagement
                        4. Search
                        5. Online Marketing

Each one of these facets must be developed with equal focus and consideration within the marketplace sphere in order to maintain an order and balance. One outstepping the other will cause the outcome to falter, creating imbalance and expended energy putting out fires along that path. We don’t always see this as we start to execute within a specific media. We become stuck sometimes within one arena we are more comfortable in or would prefer to spend our time in and perhaps disregard the other facets as less important or procrastinate in attending to them. In this circumstance the shape of your marketing objective becomes off balance and off the mark. The marketing sphere (your audience) will still digest the message and the content but the result will be less than effective with marginal results.

How can we keep the shape of our marketing efforts balanced?

  1. Start with a strong brand foundation – Align your Messaging with your audience’s needs and expectations. The visuals providing that emotional connection that delivers a clear message and the cultural or lifestyle perception of the brand to be consistent with what the audience believes the product/service will offer.
  2.  Build it into your web presence – Your brand now has a voice and can tell a more detailed story of what the customer/client is going to receive with as much valuable content that is necessary without (and this is important) overwhelming them.
  3.  Engagement needs to be a two way street – Dialogue needs to happen and don’t expect to blurt your material all over your customer/client. Allow them to be first engaged in the subject (paint them ‘their’ picture) and be able to add in their own content where admissible while keeping from adding any of YOUR ‘seagulls’ into their picture. Giving your audience some say in your brand within guided parameters gives them power (and you growth)!
  4. Search and be found – If your customer/client is looking for ‘stoves’ please don’t try to sell them ‘range tops’. Not everyone understands your underground jargon or will adopt it so please be thoughtful to your audience in providing the right search criteria that suits them rather than your internal ‘tech’ department manuscript.
  5. Online never stops – So you have each facet working, now keep the plates spinning. It might be a push on your brand plate or a tap on your engagement but each facet has to maintain in continuous motion and harmony. Take that step back to review each one in unison in its entire form. The branded shape needs to allow for ongoing input to keep it fresh and have a measurement for it. Guessing is just that … guessing.

So how is your shape faring? Is your polygon (polyhedron) wobbling at the moment? Check and see which facet you are not attending to or perhaps lacking completely. Then make adjustments to keep the shape of the company brand expanding and sustainable. The best part of evaluating your brand is that you can always re-hone your branded presence to get the perfect balance for success!