Social Media 101 for Businesses and Ventures

19 Nov

Hello Socialights! Today’s topic is a 101 on social media – all about relationships. Social media is a great platform that allows individuals to create fresh connections and openly share both ideas as well as opinions. In order to use social media, one must be actively involved. In other words, participation is key (simply by listening, joining and contributing to conversations).  The objective of participating is to gain consumer insights and become influential.

Did you know 1 word-of-mouth conversation has the impact of 200 TV ads? Or, social network users are 3 times more likely to trust in peers opinions opposed to advertisements when debating a purchase? Also, a whooping 70% of the value from social networks is from the momentum effect – for instance Facebook, where consumers use as well as share brand fundamentals on their profile (Social Business Plus).

With the above information, wouldn’t it make sense for companies to hoop on the social media train? Social media is quite diverse – any genre of business or venture can adapt to social platforms. Consider this, 47% of Facebook uses agreed that Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behaviour (Convince & Convert). As print and commercial advertisements are still common amongst today’s marketing scheme, printers too are engaging in social media. A Printing Industries of American study done approximately 18 months ago suggested that 35% of printers were actively engaging in social networking for business (Piworld).

If social media is new to your business or venture, simply start off by establishing relationships with people via social platforms. Do not try to pitch your service or product just yet! Reasons why businesses fail include: lack of focus on lead entity, the right data is getting the correct attention, social targets are unreliable, and too many excuses as well as failure to make the “boring” exciting”. By following the listed tips below, these starting obstacles will be easy to overcome!

1. Lack of Focus on Lead Market

Forget about how many people are following you or have befriended/liked your Facebook account, instead focus on engaging with your viewers. Become involved with your fans by encouraging rewarding contests, discussions, and polls. By becoming more involved with your followers, word will spread and those viewers will suggest their friends or family members to join in via social platforms. This is a great way to engage and spread awareness!

 2. Analyze the Right Data

Once again, DO NOT focus on how many followers you have. Focus on key metrics, in other words analytics, such as referrers, top post and page visits, as well global visits. It is important to analyze and understand where your views or followers are coming from. By doing so, you can get a better idea of where your social engagement is taking off and how you can increase efforts in those gray areas.

3. Plan a Clear Social Target Strategy

Put yourself in your followers shoes – view social media in their perspective. What do they face daily on these platforms? If your efforts miss the mark, you will lose viewers, their interest, and their traffic. It is important to keep in touch with your prospects overtime, for instance, send out surveys regarding what they like, do not like, and where you can approve. Make your viewers feel appreciated and important. Remember, you want repeat viewers, loyal followers, and fresh prospects.

 4. Stop Making Excuses, You’re Not Boring!

Jump in with a positive attitude – never think “social media will not work for my industry as it does not apply to us” or “we are too boring, who will care to follow us?”. Did you know the biggest growth of any age cohort from 2011 to 2012 was the 45-54 year old age segmentation? 55% of Americans ranging in between the ages of 45-54 years old possess profiles belonging to social networks. Remember, social media is diverse. No matter what your business or venture regards, there is an online niche market out there for you. Brainstorm some creative approaches to keep your followers active and loyal – keep them on their toes.

Let’s recap! Keys to success include transparent communications approach, clearly established goals and expectations, active engagement in conversations, awareness and buzz, as well as successful analytics and metrics.

Sources:

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/the-social-habit/11-shocking-new-social-media-statistics-in-america/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kymmcnicholas/2011/09/19/how-to-use-social-media-to-promote-your-small-business/

http://www.piworld.com/article/do-printing-companies-social-media-efforts-like-facebook-twitter-linkedin-increase-sales-attract-new-print-buyers-417703/1#

http://www.socialbusinessplus.com/effect-on-business.html

http://socialmediab2b.com/2012/10/b2b-social-media-failure/

Socialights’ One-on-One with Coralie D’Souza

12 Nov

Socialights got the opportunity to speak with social media guru, communications advisor and strategist Coralie D’Souza. Coralie, Communications Director of the G(irls)20 Summit and published writer, reveals her tricks and outlook on social media and how to keep it under your belt.

Prior to her role in the G(irls)20 Summit, Coralie has spent 10 years working in politics (at the municipal, provincial, as well as federal levels) as a press

secretary, communications advisor, and strategist in response to diverse political leaders, cabinet ministers, and influential figures. Additionally, Coralie has worked on four general elections with responsibilities regarding planning as well as conducting multilingual communications strategies. Coralie’s commitment to the advancement of women is apparent from her work at the 2011 G(irls)20 Summit in Paris, France where she executed the social media strategy communicating the Summit’s ongoings around the globe (http://www.girls20summit.com/about/staff/coralie-dsouza/). When Carolie is not working on the G(irls)20 Summit, she is a Hired-Gun Publicist who works with numerous clients varying in size, on issues regarding girls, women, social issues, diversity and multiculturalism.

Check out Coralie’s full biography on the G(irls)20 Summit website: http://www.girls20summit.com 

Q&A:

1. Describe the importance of social media. How has it become a key part in marketing and reaching consumers? 

Our relationship with social media is constantly evolving – but it’s a more direct way to get to consumers.  It began as quite direct, when there were fewer people on it who were using it quite actively and paying attention.  It was a way to get directly in touch with “influencers” and thought-leaders.  It was also a way for high profile people to connect with their fans (and subsequently, consumers).  As it becomes more and more popular, it too is being overrun with advertising.

2. What social media platforms, or workflows, do you use? How do you manage them?

I am a fan of HootSuite. It allows for many people on the same team to manage identical accounts and to work together. On occasion, I do us Klout to view how widespread my clients’ reach is. Additionally, social mention is helpful for tracking and trolling social media for key words and messages.

3. On average, how many times a day do you use social platforms? For instance, how many Tweets do you compose per day?

I am on these platforms almost constantly. For example, I’ve always got hootsuite open on my desktop.  Each client tweets approximately 6 times a day, both scheduled and spontaneous tweets.

 4. When do you find the prime times are to use social media? 

According to research I have come across, just after lunch – throughout the hours of 1 and 3 pm. Also, HootSuite has a helpful mechanism to detect the prime time for your tweets and automatically sends them out for you.

5. How do you effectively target consumers via social media?

I respond instantly if I can. Furthermore, I keep my content fresh and interesting so that people remain interested and look forward to what I am tweeting next. Also, I try to come out with content first, in other words, information nobody else has. For example, who resigns from Cabinet in advance of the Liberal Leadership Race.

6. Are there any downfalls when using social media? For instance, is it time consuming, not producing the expected results, and so on.

It’s time consuming. Coming up with fresh and interesting content is sometimes time consuming too.  Additionally, you must take precaution in what you say – what you say never really dies. If you say the wrong thing, it can be forever tracked.

7. What do you believe is the most valuable lesson you have learned through your experience with social media?

Definitely analytics.  The ability to prove one’s reach – via click through and analytics.

8. In your opinion, what program was the most difficult to become familiar with?

They’re all pretty intuitive.  I found Google ads to be difficult to adjust to (considering there are companies dedicated to just managing that).

9. Why do you find social media so effective for your line of business?

It’s a great way of keeping my clients and projects fresh in people’s minds.

10. How did you promote yourself via Twitter and Facebook in the starting-out stages?

I am naturally friendly in person.  This has translated to about 2,800 Facebook friends that I actually know.

In terms of clients, I have developed strategies which involve tweeting at the suitable times, releasing the correct content and following the right people. With assistance from media and partner organizations, in terms of the G(irls)20 Summit, I’ve built a network of just over 12,000 Facebook friends & 6, 000 Twitter followers.

11. Did you have any assistance with social media or did you teach yourself?

I am self-taught. I have always been a social person, so social media was quite natural.

12. Do you have tips about what you shouldn’t do with your Facebook?

I recommend that businesses determine whether they need a Facebook account or not, as it is not an effective tool for everyone.  If they choose the Facebook route, I think posting photos of relevant products and linking to Pinterest is an effective way to cross-promote.

The Marketing Social Media Battle: Beneficial vs Waste of Time

5 Nov

Everyday, we are subjected to thousands of messages wherever we go and whoever we talk to. Marketing messages are everywhere selling us products or services, whether it be billboards or word-of-mouth, sometimes without us noticing. Nowadays, marketing has taken a modern-day turn and has entered the social media realm. Marketing experts have taken over Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other countless social media platforms to spread their campaigns. But how do we employ social media marketing without getting lost in the daily social media clutter? Check out these 4 tips and learn how to stay afloat while surfing diverse social media platforms!

Tip #1: Social Networking Sites

Once upon a time, word-of-mouth marketing was the most efficient and best way of branding your venture, product, or service. Social media networking sites work the same way, just in a different form. Nowadays, we log onto social networking sites daily, sometimes even hourly, and communicate by posting pictures, comments, likes, and posts. 3 keys to communicating via social networking sites:

1. Post pictures of your product in action ..

Ever hear the saying “a picture is worth 1000 words”? People love looking at pictures to grasp a better idea of a product, service, event or person. Take advantage of action-shot photos that demonstrate your purpose. By posting these photos, people can view, like, comment, and share them, and – most importantly – become more interested in what you are offering. Don’t be afraid to post social proof!

2. Run contests ..

Encourage people to continuously visit, like, comment and share your site or page. Simple activities like contests of give-aways allow people to engage in your offering and share their experience with friends and family. Motivate your market to fill out surveys, contests, and polls by rewarding them with prizes they would enjoy.

3. Engage with others ..

Respond, respond, respond! People love recognition and to be engaged. Answer to your market or suggest other interesting links and pages you may have. Encourage your customers to explore your other pages – make them feel welcome to come back and participate again.

Tip #2: Video Marketing

Video marketing is booming! It is a great way to uniquely spread a message in a personal manner. For instance, you can demonstrate how to use a product, explain how a service works, answer questions, provide a webinar, and so on! Make people feel comfortable – let them see your purpose, whether it be a product or service, in action!

Tip #3: Pay Per Click Marketing

Often, social networking sites – like Facebook – will reward you for engagement traffic but scrutinize you for low quality messages by disabling your posts to pop up frequently. Statistics have proven that only about 17% of your fans will see  your message – wow! That means a great chunk of your audience that ‘Like’ your page will not hear from you and, most likely, forget about you. Here’s the fix! Most PPC (pay per click) marketing tools allow you to target specific online demographics of your market by zip code, sex, age, martial status, interests and education level. Specifically with Facebook, you can also target both those who are your fans and those who are not.

Lets take a closer look at Facebook…

The simplest form of PPC marketing on Facebook is to promote an ad from a page post. This strategy allows you to promote a certain post that will show the associated picture with the post and highlight the first few sentences of the message. This will pop up on the right side of anyone’s page. Once it is clicked, your market will be rerouted to the desired page. If they don’t click the ad, they are still exposed to it. For only $15 a day, these affordable campaigns can reel in loads of people!

Tip #4: Local Online Search

Ever wonder how and why the ventures listed at the top of a Google search are there? Simple. They have their businesses listed on all of the relevant local online search directories. Over 90%, people go online to look for a specific business within a certain area, for instance, ordering chinese food in your neighborhood. It is important to list yourself and consistently update your information on multiple local online search directories. Being listed within the first few posts is extremely important – who likes scrolling down the page looking through countless posts? Best of all, sites like Yelp, Manta, Google+ Local, and Yahoo! AOL Yellow Pages allow you to list yourself in local directories for free! You can also encourage your market to leave comments on your directory – spread the word!

In essence, involve your market via social media networking sites by posting photos, videos, pay per click campaigns, and being listed on local online directories. Optimize these tips and you will drive customer traffic your way.

Source: Marketing Mircales – Dan Kennedy, Thomas Bukacel

Social Media Workflows

29 Oct

Do you ever find yourself with too many tangled social media accounts and being unable to efficiently manage them? Consider investing in a social media workflow: a series of connected steps that tie an entire organization as a whole that minimize both error and overlapping of tasks in order to effectively serve your desired target market. Although the benefits of social media workflows vary, the most common is an increase in productivity and time management, as well, the ability to sync all accounts without unprofessional mishaps or confusion. Without the use of a workflow, your venture could fall behind productively and experience a social media crisis.

Finding a social media workflow that best fits both you and your venture can sometimes be challenging. Factors such as fear of difficulty or inexperience, training or lack of team adaptation, or simply the overwhelming amount of opinionated blogs and sources can distract you from investing in a workflow. Well not anymore. Socialights’ are here to save the day! Below is a comparison of three popular social media workflows that may work for you!

HootSuite

Serving over 4+ million customers, HootSuite is universally one of the most commonly known social media workflows. Serving both small and large corporations, clients such as Mc Donalds’, Sony Music, and Lamborghini use HootSuite to effectively manage multiple media platforms. HootSuite allows users to manage multiple social profiles, schedule messages as well as tweets, track brand mentions, and analyze social media traffic.

 Advantages

HootSuite offers 3 price-dependent membership plans, allowing ventures to find one that suits them best. Unlike other social media workflow systems, the flexibility of price planning is great as it welcomes smaller businesses who are new to the social media realm. It allows companies to upgrade their membership as they grow in the social media community and require highly integrated utilities. By upgrading your membership, tools such as unlimited social profiles, enhanced analytical reports (including Google and Facebook insights), and unlimited RSS feeds are available at your fingertips are available. This allows the user to customize in terms of preference. As social media is a key player in modern-day marketing it is important to analyze who is your target market and whom you are actually targeting. With the use of analytical reports, the volume of traffic can be further analyzed in terms of helpful data such as demographics. HootSuite is also web based, meaning it can be used via iPhone (including other mobile devices), iPad, and with a computer allowing social network management to be easily accessible as well as flexible! HootSuite as an online platform benefits the user in terms of computer resources; memory, mobility as well as flexibility of internet servers (Firefox, Chrome).

 Disadvantages

Although HootSuite has a visually appealing interface, there is not enough space to display more than 4 columns at the same time. Due to the tight space, it is important to plan and prioritize columns and tools accordingly. As well, there are not many tools in the free version, and there is a slow updating process on both mobile and computer interfaces. Additionally, the Android platform does not post links to picture posts via Facebook. Without being able to preview images, it is impossible to tag and other actions are hindered through these devices.

Interested in setting up a HootSuite account? Check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SDwu4ggiuQ

Sysomos

The new and improved Sysomos is redefining social media analytics that allows users to measure, monitor, and understand social media traffic at ease with a few clicks of the mouse. The 4 key steps of Sysomos’ methodology are: data collection, information processing, data analysis, and you (the user). As conversations are happening within both social and traditional media, Sysomos processes the information and converts it into metrics as well as comparative trends. With all this information, the user can collect insights regarding social buzz and geo-demographics.

 Advantages

Providing access to all blogs, social networks, micro-blogging services, forums, and media sources, Sysomos is your one-stop workflow for an extensive generated analysis. Covering all major social media sources, from Facebook to LinkedIn and so on, Sysomos is equipped with Heartbeat and Sysomos MAP applications. As the social media world is rapid and growing, trusted instantaneous results are a must in order to make quick, reliable decisions. Heartbeat, a social media monitoring and measurement tool, provides consistent updated insights of conversations via user-friendly graphics. Heartbeat organizes means of communication such as conversation, workflows, and collaborations with the use of split screens that filter topics of interest. For example, Tweets about a particular product in a positive tone. The Sysomos MAP is a psychographic tool that delivers insights as well as intelligence that delivers insights regarding why they are happening and who is driving them. With the use of this application, unlimited queries, collaboration, and detailed reports for clients are possible. Sysomos dashboard is of great convenience, as it allows the user to monitor all pages from a single dashboard designed for team collaboration and easy reporting. Additionally, insights and analysis can be delivered through email, widgets, and PDF reports – whichever suits your needs best. Unlike HootSuite, the price of this workflow is not hidden and is affordable when compared to other workflows.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, only signing up with Sysomos does not provide you with their original products, Heartbeat and Sysomos MAP.  Sysomos’ basic Heartbeat program costs $550 US a month but requires a startup cost of $500 US. This program comes equipped with 5 search queries, 10 tags and unlimited results. As your venture or needs grow, upgrades are available to increase the amount of queries and tags. Additionally, Sysomos lacks Youtube and Google buzz, in other words, analysis of popular topics via these platforms.

 Cision

Cision is a social media monitoring workflow that notifies the user what is being said via social channels in order to shape your approach and engage with your market. Similar to Sysomos, Cision provides analytics and powerful metrics that allow the user to define and track valuable information from all social media websites, including file ad image sharing sites.

 Advantages

Cision, a UK and Sweden based company, partnered with 125 countries worldwide ensures a diverse language selection and is optimized for multi-national clients with a large amount of global contacts. As an easy tool to setup, Cision’s workflow is customizable and provides training through their website. Additionally, free tools, such as EdCals, alerts customers on major stories and events. The CisionPoint tool optimizes major channels and can record and store every media interaction to one place. According to blog PR Campanion, 49/50 PR agencies, corporations, nonprofits, universities, and solo practitioners use Cision’s workflow.

Disadvantages

Cision is known for poor customer service in terms of long wait times regarding questions and concerns about the workflow. Additionally, Cision’s visually poor interface is often confusing and requires solid training.

Social media workflows are beneficial yet intricate. It is important to define what is an efficient workflow for your venture in terms of software and practices. By establishing the purpose of your workflow, it is easier to narrow down the options. For instance, consider HootSuite vs. Sysomos. Sysomos’ strengths include extensive analytical applications similar to HootSuite (ie. the one of a kind Sysomos MAP – defines demographic and psychographics of targeted social media). Although HootSuite provides analytical applications as well, Sysomos’ applications seem to be more in-depth and specialized in this sector. Based on your venture’s objectives and needs of a workflow, the user is able to invest on a workflow based on cost, time, training, and level of need. So before you decide on which social media workflow to use, think about what you want it to do, and chose the one that fits best.

Sources:

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2012/08/29/breakdown-social-media-workflow-process-triage/

http://www.sysomos.com/social-media-monitoring/

http://www.cision.com/uk/products-and-services/social-media-monitoring/

http://prcompanion.com/blog/2012/04/compare-cision-vocus/

http://www.cisionwire.com/packaging-and-pricing/

Strategic Time Management – The 18 Minute Rule

22 Oct

Hello Socialights!

Ever get repetitively sidetracked by social media? Well, look no further we are here to help!  Cut down multiple hours of unproductive social media use to only 18 efficient minutes! Find your focus, master distraction, and get the right things done!

Learn how to “work on social media” rather than “in social media” with these simple tips!

Pick Your Social Media High Five

With the use of a calendar, pick five areas that are important to your respected venture for the year. By simply prioritizing tasks, you will be able to focus on main events rather than those of minuscule importance. Once you have selected your five areas of focus, spend 95% of your social media time on these tasks and leave the remaining 5% for exploring and time cushions.

Get the Right Things Done

Remember, the purpose of the “social media high five” is to ensure  that the right things get done. Don’t waste your time on tasks that are unimportant, no matter how distracting they may be. Stay focused!

And finally, the 18 minute rule.

 Step 1 : Your Social Media Morning (5 minutes)

Like an agenda with your personal appointments, plan out your day in terms of social media. What has to get done? By simply creating a to-do list, decide what and when each thing needs to get done. Don’t stress yourself with unfeasible expectations and workloads. Be realistic and productive.

Step 2:  Social Media Refresh and Refocus (1 minute every hour)

Overseeing your social media on an hourly basis is a discipline as well as a science. A simple check up every hour can prevent a bottleneck of social media clutter daily. By setting alarms or reminders, you can effectively keep your social channels up-to-date and ensure everything is on track.

Step 3: Your Social Media After Dark (5 minutes)

Review. Take a look-back on the progress of your social media day. How did my social media day go? What did I accomplish? Whom did I interact with? How many people responded to my posts? Should I respond to, or acknowledge any RTs, comments, or posts? Building and/or maintaining relationships are key in the social media realm. With so much clutter in the social media world, it is easy to forget easy tasks such as responses to followers. Remember to share appreciation, congratulate someone or offer thanks to your followers.

Additionally, keep these tips in mind to total the 18 minute plan.

Social Media Delete

Invitations via social media flood our inboxes daily. Don’t get sidetracked, choose what to respond to, and what to ignore. Give yourself a few minutes a day for reviewing and sorting out the important from the unimportant.

Finally, the Social Media Calendar

Place the most difficult and most vital items at the beginning of your day. Also, plan these items according to when and where they will be completed. “Statistics show that when you schedule an action item with a time and date, the chances of it getting done are far greater than letting it float”. It’s also better to get things done early in your day before you forget about them altogether.

Stay tuned every Monday for more social media tips and tricks from Socialights.

Want to know more? Check out: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2116456/18-Minutes-a-Day-to-Social-Media-Time-Management

CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

18 Oct

Socialights’ first blog will be posted on Monday October 22 2012!

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