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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 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.

What is a social media manager?

social media managerSocial media has become a critical part of every business’ success. It can be used to build awareness of products, increase the company’s visibility, alert customers to sales and promotions, among other strategies. Because these tasks can be time-consuming and require detailed attention, many people hire someone to focus specifically these tasks. This person is known as a social media manager.

The manager has many tasks. One of the most important tasks is monitoring the company’s presence online. This can include monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other types of social media. The manager not only looks for interactions with customers, but checks to see what is being said about the company and its products.

The next task the manager has is to contribute to the discussions and encourage additional discussion about the company or a specific product. This may include contributing to community discussions, posting articles strategically, sending messages and responding to messages that concern the brand the manager is focused on. The manager can also responsible for search engine optimization, also known as SEO. This means the manager makes sure that the company and its products have a strong presence and can easily be found on the internet through search engines. Often, the manager sends messages that support specific marketing campaigns. If there is a concern about the company, the social media manager will send messages and contribute to discussions to clear up misunderstandings and help people understand the company and its products more clearly.

The manager must also measure the effect that social media is having on the company’s reputation. Are customers aware of the product? Is media helping people understand the company and its products more fully? Are customers engaging with the company online? Is there anything that can be done with media to help the company grow and retain its current customers? These are all concerns that fall within the job of a social media manager.