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How to Create a Meaningful Social Media Presence

social media icon cloudLots of companies have a social media presence. They have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest pages, Instagram, YouTube and other online accounts. They may make an effort to create a presence on every new social platform; however, the mere presence of social media accounts will do nothing to help your company’s marketing efforts. If customers don’t have a reason to pay attention to your social media efforts, they will be a waste of time and energy. At worst, some companies manage to annoy their customers through their use of social media. A well-planned out strategy can help you avoid these marketing mishaps.

Many businesses hire social media experts to help them manage their online presence. For smaller companies, a dedicated social media employee isn’t a realistic option. Often, they choose to work with consultants who help them build a useful online presence. Often, social media consultants work with website developers to help integrate the company’s image into a consistent brand. An important part of this is engaging customers without annoying them.

How do you attract customers without pestering them?

  1. Don’t post articles or send messages that have no purpose other than self-promotion. Some companies post Tweets or Facebook messages that are the online equivalent of saying “Hey, we’re here!” Most users view this as another pesky internet advertisement which they promptly ignore. They may even unsubscribe from your Facebook page or stop following your Twitter account if they are particularly annoyed.
  2. Use your sites to include customers in your business. Allow them to post Instagram pictures on your Facebook page. Follow your customers back on Twitter. Respond to Facebook friend requests, if your page is setup to maintain your professional persona. When customers post comments on your Facebook page, send a reply. This creates interaction that entices customers to share your sites and return for future interactions.
  3. Include promotions on your sites. Share coupons through sites like Twitter and Facebook. Encourage subscribers to share coupons with friends. Offer new promotions and coupons on a regular basis to encourage interest.
  4. Host contests that users can share on social media. Encourage them to share contests with friends. Contests can give away free or reduced price products. Share information about the winners so that users know contests are real. You can even share photographs of winners with their permission.
  5. Run seasonal promotions and share the information with all your followers and friends. If you don’t attract their attention regularly, they will forget about you. A dormant social media presence becomes invisible over time. It does no good to create a Facebook page if you never use it.
  6. Use tools like FanPageKarma or Woobox to increase customer interaction through Facebook contests. You can ask users to like or comment on a post to enter a contest. The tool picks a winner at random out of the number of “likes” on the Facebook page. The contests need to be real or users will quickly catch on.
  7. Try creating a YouTube account that features fun or interesting videos. Share the videos with customers on social media. You can create a variety of different types of videos. Take videos at company events. Record a community event that is related to your business. Ask customers to create testimonials. Always get permission before using people in videos. Never use copyrighted materials in visual media.
  8. Avoid commenting on politics or controversial social issues. Your customer base probably includes people with a wide range of opinions and convictions. Don’t alienate people by posting political articles, criticizing local leaders or campaigning for candidates. Businesses have lost customers by commenting on a variety of controversies. Reread any posts and ask for a second opinion if you think you might have crossed a line.
  9. Write articles that inform consumers. Customers don’t want to receive notifications about new marketing campaigns; they want information that helps them solve problems. Create articles that educate people on current issues and concerns that are relevant to your industry. Don’t create content that is merely self-serving. Instead, create interesting articles with expert advices, questions, answers and helpful resources that readers will share with others.
  10. Use your social media presence to support community events. Many companies sponsor local charity causes including parades, fundraisers, races, food drives, dances, museums, youth sports and other causes to help build community awareness. Encourage readers to become involved in events through links on your Facebook page. Send tweets that inspire people to join in to help. This isn’t a direct marketing strategy, but it affects the public opinion of your organization.
  11. Use Twitter in a variety of ways. Link to articles. Post advertising videos. Thank customers who have replied to your tweet or have retweeted your posts. Retweet relevant links. Use hashtags that are relevant to your company.
  12. Link to your social media sites through your website. Customers can use Twitter to request help or ask questions. They can like your Facebook page to receive promotional information. They can pin product information or designs from your site directly to their Pinterest boards if you provide a link. These steps can help increase the traffic to your website from potential customers.
  13. Use a casual but professional style at all times. If your writing is sloppy, people will view you as incompetent. Work with professional writers and editors if you don’t have the time or staff available to carefully review your work. Small mistakes can detract from your company’s image.
  14. Follow related businesses, experts and individuals on Twitter and review their posts. You can learn a lot about customer interactions and current issues. Reply to posts on occasion if you have something relevant to add to the conversation.
  15. Encourage comments on your social media pages. Ask questions about current issues in your industry. Ask customers for feedback. What flavors do they want? What new styles interest them? What are their favorite events to celebrate at restaurants? When customers comment on your page, reply and thank them for their comment. If the customer has a complaint, contact the person directly to resolve the issue.

Encouraging Users to Visit Your Sites Regularly

The goal for business social media sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter is to build customer awareness. These sites are an important part of any modern marketing campaign. These tools help you increase your website placement in natural ways. You’ve probably noticed websites that rank at the very top of website searches for certain terms and are labeled sponsored or have a different background color. Often, these sites pay search engines for high placement through pay-per-click (PPC) services. You don’t have to pay to get good results, if you are patient and willing to put in the work to gain placement organically. You need to build an organic enhancement strategy that incorporates a social media presence that supports your overall marketing strategy.

Pinterest

pinterestIf you visit department stores, boutiques and other fashion websites, you may notice that they have a “Pin It” option. This means users can click the button and pin items they like to their Pinterest accounts. Pinning your product allows the user to return later to buy the products. Customer pinning also helps in your marketing efforts giving your product a chance to go viral. Once pinned, other pinners will see your product on the person’s Pinterest page, and they may decide to pin the item to their boards. More and more people see your product as it is pinned to pages. People tend to follow other Pinterest users with similar interests. This increases the likelihood that your product will be seen by potential customers.

You can create a Pinterest account for your company in under 5 minutes and start pinning, but beware “pinning” can be so much fun it may not feel like work! Creating a Pinterest account is a creative process so be sure someone with the right skills is in charge. The page needs to be appealing and interesting without being self-serving. Don’t pin every item in your catalog to your page. Instead, create themes and pin items within the themes.

pinterestEngage your customers by repinning items from follower’s accounts; this will make them feel included in your efforts. Pin items often and include a wide variety of items on your page. Don’t use straight marketing materials. Instead, use items that are visually interesting and that will inspire consumers. Create boards that relate to your business in a creative and interesting way. For example if you’re a travel agent, create a “Bucklist” board and pin the activities people should do in their lifetime – visit Paris, see the Parthenon in Greece and Nashville, TN, cruise to Alaska. Employ the tool called “WiseStamp” which enables you to display recent pins in email newsletters, capturing your audience’s attention.

Always add a “follow” button on your web site and install the Pinterest app on your business Facebook page. This will make it possible for people to keep up with your pinning on regular basis. Remember that Pinterest is a primarily visual tool –beautiful and interesting images are how you capture attention. If you are unsure how to create a Pinterest page that engages customers, work with a marketing consultant or designer. They can help you understand how to use the platform in an engaging way and show you examples of successful pages.

Facebook

There are many ways to optimize your use of Facebook. It’s a popular social media tool with over a billion accounts, but companies often don’t make the most of it. You can use Facebook as a key part of your marketing efforts, especially if you are willing to sponsor your posts.

facebookGive users the option to share posts with friends and tag themselves in your photos. This will increase your visibility among your potential target audience. Many companies effectively attract interest by running promotions through Facebook like Soma with their “This” or “That” contest where a commenter can win an item. Consumers like looking for deals, so posting coupons that customers can print or redeem electronically is sure to draw more fans. Also, the deal encourages users to share the coupons to build interest among other potential customers. Contests are another great marketing strategy. You can run contests that reward users when you gain a certain number of “likes” or followers. You can start a seasonal contest to promote new products by giving away prizes. Some companies offer samples to a certain number of users through their Facebook accounts. These are all effective marketing strategies for this social media platform.

The one potential marketing hazard with Facebook is showing up in your fans newsfeed. Often times when fans become inactive and are no longer liking, commenting or sharing a business page’s posts, the posts stop showing organically in the user’s wall fed. If your page has been inactive for a while, the same will happen; your fans will be blind to your new posts. To combat this, Facebook offers sponsored posts. For as little as $5 you can market your post, encouraging those non-active fans to become active again. You already got them to like your page through paid or organic marketing efforts, now you need to engage them.

Twitter

Twitter allows you to send out short messages to people who follow your account. You can create a free Twitter account or you can purchase paid Twitter advertisements. If you use a good marketing strategy, there is no need for a paid account. You can accomplish your goals by working with the tool in a well-thought-out way.

When you create a Twitter profile, you will be able to select an avatar and complete a profile about your company. It is critical that this profile is consistent with the marketing messages you send about your company in all media. That includes print advertising, websites and other social media platforms. Ensure that your logo is visible and properly displayed. A graphic designer can help you properly resize or adjust your logo so that it fits your avatar. The avatar is the graphic that is displayed every time you send a tweet so it needs to be familiar to your customers.

You will also need a large photo for the background on your profile. Text will display over your background so the photo shouldn’t make the profile text difficult to read. You can also customize your Twitter background. This is something else a graphic designer can help with. The visuals on your Twitter account should fit in with the rest of your marketing materials. You’ll also need to have a brief description of your company on the profile. This should be carefully worded so that it fits in with your marketing strategy.

One of the advantages of Twitter is that every tweet will arrive in your follower’s feed. This is a marketing advantage because your messages won’t be filtered out the way Facebook posts are. You can use Twitter to send photographs, videos and article links. You can also link to specific webpages. You need to follow the same strategies on Twitter that you do on other social media. Present useful information that engages readers. Don’t simply use Twitter to blatantly promote your company.

twitterMention other users in your tweets by tagging them with the “@” before their Twitter handle. You can do this without replying to a particular tweet. This will engage the person you mention and other readers. This is a good way to thank a customer or colleague. It’s also an effective strategy for linking your company with community events and charities by mentioning the names in your Tweet.

Entice readers to view your blog articles or web pages with questions or teaser statements. Follow the statements with a link to useful article. Here are some examples of teasers:

  • Learn more about new tax structures for small businesses
  • Here are some tips for entertaining children on snowy days
  • Try these tasty cocktails to cool down on hot days

These teaser statements will entice users to click on the link and read the article. If it interests them, they are likely to retweet the message to their followers. This can dramatically increase the reach of your message because now you have the opportunity to engage all of their followers too, resulting in more fans and readers.

It’s key to use social media carefully as a part of your marketing strategy. Your goal should always be to interest and engage readers – focusing on their needs and interests, not just pushing your product or service. Engaged readers will help you naturally grow your social media presences because as they repin, like and retweet your posts, they open your company up to a new audience. Social media sharing is the new viral marketing – make sure your company’s marketing strategy is incorporating this valuable resource.

How to Enrich Your Online Presence

How long will it take customers to forget about you? You don’t want to find out the answer to this question the hard way. Establishing social media accounts is a first step, but you shouldn’t stop there. When it comes to Facebook and other social media, you need to regularly post or your readers will quickly lose interest in your page. If you don’t post often enough, your posts won’t show up in your readers’ newsfeeds. It doesn’t matter how many friends or fans you have if no one is seeing activity from your page.

Create a blog

wordpressMany companies have added blogs to their websites. Why? Blogs are a valuable tool for reaching out to customers. You can create a blog simply and quickly using WordPress. If you want support using the tool, you can work with a website developer who is experienced with WordPress. They can quickly install the tool and help you update it over time. Once installed, the tool is as simple to use as most word processing software. You can easily write articles, use spell check and add graphics and links.

Your blog can contain a wide variety of articles. Focus on content that is useful for consumers. The blog shouldn’t be an obvious marketing tool. Instead, it should contain information like:

  • How to solve common problems customers have with your products.
  • Ways to resolve issues that don’t involve your products but are related to your industry.
  • Answers to common questions customers have about projects that are related to your products and services.
  • Articles about trends in your industry.
  • Assistance in researching common concerns.
  • Advice from experts in your industry.

Spice up your Facebook page through WordPress Plug-ins

jetpack pluginYou can easily create a blog on WordPress and link relevant articles through your Facebook page. WordPress has a plug-in that can help you make the most of your blog and Facebook relationship. You can schedule articles to automatically post to your social media pages. What is social integration? It also known as social publishing. It means you can cross-post your content between your WordPress account and your Facebook timeline. This helps you save time and send your posts to Facebook immediately. You can also tag friends and other pages which will help you distribute your content to a wider audience.

The WordPress plug-ins are simple and don’t require complex coding on your end. If you don’t have the time or staff resources to deal with WordPress plug-ins, you can find a contract website developer who can install these plug-ins quickly and inexpensively. Ask the installer to explain how the new plug-ins work and how you can use them effectively.

You can publish new content to Facebook in more than one way. First, you should have a company page set up. You can regularly post content and it will appear on your fans’ newsfeed. Next, your authors can create their own Facebook pages so they can share their articles with their followers. Encourage employees to repost links on articles that interest them.

You can use WordPress widgets to point users towards useful content. You can add a recommendations box to refer users to site content based on likes and comments from other users. You can also do this through an activity feed. You can also embed the public post content on Facebook in your WordPress posts easily by entering a shortcode or embedding a link.

Update WordPress Features

WordPress adds new features all the time. New WordPress widgets can help you boost your interactions with customers all the time. You can use social plug-ins that let you learn more about your friends and followers. The activity feed will show your friends’ and fans’ activity on Facebook. This might include their comments on other pages and likes. You can use this information to create posts and articles that relate to the interests your customers have.

WordPress plug-ins allow you to create richer comments sections on your blog. The plug-ins make it possible for readers to comment on your site and post these comments back to Facebook. You have the option to use moderation tools. Why are these tools important? Many spammers use comments sections to plug their websites or post irrelevant links. Other times, readers get into arguments on unrelated issues in the comments section. You don’t want this type of content to post to your Facebook page. It wastes your reader’s time and they’ll get in the habit of ignoring your posts. They may even hide your newsfeed so that they can’t see the information.

Make Use of “Like” and “Send” buttons

facebook likeYou can use WordPress widgets to embed “Like” and “Send” buttons into your posts. Customers can then easily share your content to Facebook using the buttons. They don’t have to take the extra step of copying and pasting the link to their pages. This makes them much more likely to share your content on social media.

General tips for social media

Here are some general tips that will help you keep your social media presence relevant and engaging:

  • Post regularly. Don’t neglect your blog or social media accounts. If you don’t have time to create posts and links, work with a social media expert. There are a variety of writers and marketing consultants that can do this work on an as-needed basis.
  • Share useful information. Don’t send blatant marketing materials. Instead, share information that will interest your readers.
  • Avoid engaging in controversial issues on your company’s social media. Don’t send, like or repost content on politics and social issues no matter how strongly you might feel about them. Your customer base is diverse and if people are offended by posts, they’ll probably delete you from their Facebook and other social media accounts.
  • Use Twitter to send your information to users. This can help remind them to visit your page on a regular basis.
  • Run contests and regular promotions. Send the information through social media and encourage users to share with their friends. Many companies successfully use coupons and regular specials to engage readers.

Keeping social media up to date is a critical part of the modern marketing process. Remember, if you don’t have the time or staff to dedicate to these efforts, you can always hire consultants to support you. If you neglect social media, you will miss out on opportunities to engage potential customers. This can have a direct impact on you company’s bottom line.

Social Media Content That Works

social mediaBrands – it’s the goal of every manufacturer to have consumers follow their brand and be loyal to it. Social media has created an opportunity that’s very unique, which allows brands and consumers to connect a level that’s much more than just a monetary transaction.

In the past, brand followers really had no way to celebrate their loyalty to a brand. Social media has changed that. Social media has taken brand loyalty to a whole new level, taking that relationship to a whole deeper level.

As a follower of your brand, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can provide any content you want. Remember, with just one click of the mouse, your fan can exit. It’s very important for you to offer the kind of content that your followers want. Let’s look at the type of social media content that works.

  1. Content that Goes Deeper – The most casual fans may be okay with limited interaction with their brand. However, the more serious brand follower, the true fan, wants more. They want to see content that’s limited where only a small number to see. This additional content is desirable to those serious fans.

  2. Fan Content – One of the biggest thank you can give your fans is to share content they’ve created. Social media tends to overlook their audience. If you offer your fans this little thank you, you will be rewarded with happier, more loyal brand followers.

  3. Content that’s Shareable – We’ve all seen it on our Facebook profile – crazy pictures or videos, inspirational quotes, and all kinds of shareable content that is not associated with an actual brand. This type of content is freely shared on Facebook. So while it’s never a good idea to make it part of your auto scheduled posts, but instead share them randomly.

  4. Participating Content – Most social media interaction could be compared to being a passive stalker. Followers watch, read, and leave. But if you give them something to participate in, such as a contest, followers will be quick to participate. By offering your followers a way to participate it gets them involved.

  5. Content that’s Exclusive – If the content you are sharing on your social media is the same as what’s available elsewhere, why would your followers follow you. In order to get people to subscribe or follow you, there needs to be something of value being offered. So when you are putting your social media content together keep this in mind.

If you are ready to take on your social media content by yourself, good for you! However, if you feel like you need a hand in order to get it right, why not hire a marketing company.

Marketing Tips to Improve Your Facebook Fan Participation

facebookMost business owners recognize the importance of a Facebook presence for their business. However, just creating a page and having fans follow you isn’t enough. You want to make sure that you are engaging your fans and that they are participating on your Facebook fan page. Here are some excellent marketing tips to improve your Facebook fan participation.

  • Link to other relevant Facebook pages – Don’t be afraid to provide links to other Facebook pages that provide more information on related topics. Don’t worry; you won’t lead your fans to the competition. Rather, they’ll appreciate the extra effort to provide them with more resources and are likely to come back more often. Marketing using this technique can be very successful.

  • Make your content relevant – If you want your fans to participate then the content, you post needs to relate to real people. You need to connect with your readers on an emotional level and you are much more likely to see them participate on your page.

  • Link to something popular – If you want to increase the amount of discussion occurring on your page, link to something popular that people are talking about. For example, right now the Game of Thrones is incredibly popular so a niche on your Facebook page would help to generate a dialogue on your page. This applies to other social media avenues as well.

  • Give your fans’ choice – One of the easiest ways to get your fans to participate is to ask them to make a choice.  For example, click like if you are a Boston Red Sox fan or share if you are a Chicago Cubs fan. Now you may not think that this marketing strategy would benefit you, but the focus is to engage your fans.

  • Curate the content from other Facebook pages – Creating new posts on an ongoing basis can be time consuming. Instead, why not share some of the other terrific content that’s on Facebook. It will help to balance the news that appears on your page, and you’ll get all kinds of voices this way.

There you have it – some great marketing tips to increase your Facebook fan participation. These marketing tips can be used in many of your social media venues. Ideally, your marketing should focus on getting your fans to interact on your page, because it is that interacting that leads to trust and brand loyalty.

If you don’t have the time, or you don’t feel you have the expertise to be successful using these marketing tips, why not hire a marketing company to help.

How to Network Online

social mediaKnowing how you can successfully network online can be very valuable for your online business. Thankfully, it has never been easier than right now to network online. Many sites are focused on creating a place for business professionals to promote their brand and network.

With the internet, networking online has become very easy to achieve and that has created an excellent marketing opportunity for online businesses. The profile you create on each of the social media sites is very important, because this is the first opportunity visitors have to learn who you are and what you do. It’s also the first marketing opportunity you have to sell your product or service.

You can take on creating this profile and networking to these sites on your own, but if you really want to maximize the benefits, you should consider hiring a marketing company to do this. Your goal is to make your business profile stand out without being arrogant. Always make sure to post contact information.

Let’s look at some of the best places to network.

  • LinkedIn – There are more than 30 million professionals using LinkedIn. This is the best place for online networking for B2B, professionals, and career seekers. This is it! This is worth focusing on and learning to use to its full capacity. If you are not sure how to maximize the benefits, let your marketing team do it!

  • NFP – Networking for Professionals is an excellent site to network online. You can find events that are going on offline where you can attend in person.

  • Facebook – Even though Facebook is about social networking rather than business networking don’t ignore it because this is a huge online networking site that can benefit you in numerous ways. Be sure to take advantage of it!

  • Ziggs – If you want to build your brand and market your product/service.

  • Bebo – This is the 3rd largest social networking website and it’s an excellent place to for business professionals to network online.

  • BizNik – This website promotes itself as the “business networking that doesn’t suck.” You’ll be pleased to learn they deliver on their promise.

  • Pinterest – This is a visual online networking site that has grown eve quicker than Facebook grew.

That’s only a handful of the sites where you can network online and grow your business. Take advantage of the skills of a professional marketing team to grow your business using online networking.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Help Your Business Grow

Facebook1. If you haven’t already done so, create a Facebook page for your business

If you do not have a Facebook page and you offer a product, create one immediately. Facebook has more active users than any other social media platform on the web. Facebook has pages specifically designated for businesses, which allow customers to fan follow your business. If you’re fan is active on your page (liking, commenting or sharing your posts), they will see your posts on their newsfeed. You can use these posts to sharing industry related tips and new, and advertise your products and promote any sales you may be having. Many businesses run promotions on Facebook to capture user interest and involvement; they use giveaways and/or contests to attract attention to their page and consequently, their business.

 

2. Start Tweeting

Does your business tweet? If not, it should, but your business’ personally and expertise should be reflected in the tweets if you hope to have interaction. Twitter is one of the most popular social media websites. It is an excellent way to communicate with your clientele. You’ll want to start by developing a content strategy. Think about your business and your target market. You have plenty of valuable knowledge to share with them. Start with practical solutions to problems they might have. For example, if you are a professional organizer, offer trips for optimizing space in a small closet.

 

3. Use photos in your posts

Photos are an excellent way to attract attention to your posts, which is why Pinterest has become so popular. Statistics show that people are more likely to read a post with a picture. Images will make your posts more interesting and fun. It is also a great way to communicate your message without making the user read a bunch of text. An infographic is very powerful and communicate more than an paragraph with a singular picture.

 

4. Don’t forget about Google +

When thinking about social media for business, people tend to forget about Google+. One of the biggest perks of Google+ that people don’t realize is the higher Google ranking their business page will receive. If people type in a keyword for a business, they are more much likely to see a Google+ page than a Facebook or Twitter page. Another great option they offer is linking, which allows you to link your other social media pages to your Google+ page which helps to increase your traffic on all avenues in the land of social media.