4 Fundamental Building Blocks of Successful Social Media Contests

A good social media contest can bring in tons of new visitors, build excitement among your existing user base and create buzz in the industry as a whole. Pulling one off successfully requires a lot of planning. Just one or two mistakes can not only bring down your whole contest, but even put your company in jeopardy.

Enter to Win

Here are four of the most important things to know before starting your social media contest.

#1 – The Legalities

Be careful about the legalitiesWhen you’re doing an online contest, you should almost definitely have a lawyer look over your legal disclaimers and the contest as a whole to make sure you’re fully compliant.

Different states have different laws about what you can and can’t do in a contest. Sweepstakes can never require a purchase. Contests that are based on skill or participation have special rules as well.

Your contest will need to have appropriate disclaimers. These should be written by a lawyer. It’s important to realize that you can actually get sued if you don’t have your legalities down.

#2 – Understand Cheating

Cheating is an often under looked aspect of online contests. If there’s real monetary value to the prizes you’re offering, there’s a very good chance you’ll attract people who won’t play by the rules. Understanding Cheating

Forms of cheating include using proxy servers to vote on their own submission, hiring out voting or other processes overseas or even downright hacking.

Start by studying how contest players game various different kinds of systems. Then implement basic protections, such as one vote per IP, cookies to track users, etc.

Finally, check your logs regularly to see if there’s any suspicious activity. For example, if you suddenly see 2,000 users an hour coming from Vietnam voting on one user, you might start to get a little suspicious.

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Intranet Social Media: Why Adoption Rates Are Low and How to Fix It

Intranet Social MediaIntranet social media can be one of the most powerful tools for internal communication. Unfortunately, the adoption rate of social media within corporations is dismally low. Long story short, employees simply rarely take up internal social media. In fact, 72% of employees use intranet social media networks less than once a month. In comparison, most will use Facebook several times a day.

Why is that?

Intranet Social Media Networks are Designed by IT, not UE

The people who design intranet social media networks are usually the IT department, not the user experience department. In other words, the people who actually design the network aren’t trained in design. They’re trained in programming, networks and packets. Intranet designed by IT and not by UE

As a result, the user experience of the social network is invariably a lot worse than the experience of other networks like Facebook or Twitter.

The people who tend to take up intranet social media networks tend to be the early tech adopters. While that’s all fine and good, the real power of inter-office networking comes into play when most of the office is on the network, not just one small subset.

So how can you fix this? How do you get the majority of the office on an intranet social media network?

#1: The Quality of the Network

Focus on QualityThe first and most important thing is to actively manage the quality of the network itself. This should be done with a push in the beginning, but it should also be an ongoing process.

Ask your employees: What do they want from a social media network? What kind of things would they want to communicate about? What special features – Such as task management, milestones, confidential memos, filesharing – do they want?

Try to make the network as useful as possible. Also try and make it as intuitive, user friendly and enjoyable as possible.

Get your user experience and design staff involved. Creating a social media network for your staff is similar to creating one for the general public. It needs to be well designed, easy to use and intuitive. Just because they’re getting paid doesn’t mean they’re going to want to use something that’s clunky and hard to navigate.

Make sure you have a great intranet social media network first, before trying to get people on board.

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5 Killer Strategies for Using Social Media to Recruit Brand Ambassadors

Use Social Media to Recruit Brand AmbassadorsA brand ambassador is someone who’ll actively seek out others to help spread your brand. They’ll tell their friends, their co-workers and even their social media networks about you. Through a single brand ambassador, you could be exposed to as many as 500 people through tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Brand ambassadors can’t be “hired.” They can only be earned. Great companies turn many of their customers into brand ambassadors.

When someone has a great experience at a company, they tell their friends. People want to share stories about great service. People also want their friends to experience great service. If you really create a satisfied customer, you’ll naturally create brand ambassadors who help spread your brand.

On the flip side are people who actively seek to hurt your brand. It rarely happens, because in general people want to help rather than hurt. In order for someone to want to actively hurt your brand, you’ll need to have really mistreated them or underperformed their expectations.

According to IBM, customers will usually give you as many as ten warning signs before turning against you.

So how do you cultivate brand ambassadors rather than brand haters? How do you create a fanatic fanbase of users that try to evangelize your product wherever they go? Make sure you follow these five guiding principles.

1. Consistency

In a survey of restaurant customers, people were asked questions about why they regularly ate at a certain venue. Was it the service? Was it the food? Was it the price? Was it the location? Be consistent

When the results came in, researchers were surprised to find that the #1 thing customers looked for was consistency.

They wanted to know that they could go to a certain restaurant and have a certain experience. They knew what kind of service they’d get, what they’d have to pay and what kind of food they can expect.

Consistency is very important to customers. If you want to cultivate a long-term customer, it’s tantamount that they know what they can expect from you. Be consistent.

2. Be Product Centered

Be Product CenteredWhat is it that separates your brand from other people?

In the short run, marketing, branding, outreach and other such techniques can mask poor products. However, in the long run, the success or failure of a company really comes down to whether one product is better than the other.

Take the example of Google. Before Google, there was Yahoo, AltaVista and a number of other search engines. After Google, there were dozens of search engines to start as well.

Google had no marketing budget. They only had word of mouth. For a long time, they lagged behind their competitors. But slowly and surely, they gained market share, for one simple reason: Their product was better.

In the short run, it might seem like being product centered doesn’t pay. However, in the long run, creating a top notch product is what will put your company on the map.

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3 Effective Ways To Measure Social Media ROI

One of the biggest counter-arguments to social media has always been “What’s the ROI?” After all, does it really make sense to spend time, money and other resources on something whose results can’t actually be tracked?

Though a lot of different metrics have come and gone in the social media world, there’s still no definitive way to measure the return on investment in the social sphere.

So is social media worth the investment? The key thing to remember is that social media really isn’t a ROI-based activity. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide whether or not social media is a good investment for you.

#1: You’re Beginning a Relationship

Think of social media as if you’re paying to go to a party where many of your customers will be at. How do you measure that in terms of ROI?

It’s extremely difficult, in large part due to how difficult it is to quantify relationships. Someone you meet at the party could introduce you to a new friend, who 6 months later refers you to a big client. If you had never gone to the party you wouldn’t have met this person, but it’s very hard to quantify that client as a “return” on your investment in going to the party.

Social media is very similar. It help you create and cultivate social relationship, which can have a domino effect that can’t always be measured.

#2: Learn From Your Customers

Social media differs from traditional media in one important way: You get to learn from your customers.

If you were just running TV ads, you’d get the same branding effect, but you wouldn’t get to hear back from your customers about how you’re performing. You won’t get to hear suggestions about how to improve your product or get early warnings of potential problems.

Social media is one of the purest ways you can stay in touch with you customers. It’s just not realistic for most businesses to stay in one-on-one contact with their customers; but through social media you can easily stay in touch with a lot of people at once.

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The 5 Biggest Social Media Blunders by Fortune 500 Companies
The 5 Biggest Social Media Blunders by Fortune 500 Companies

There’s a lot we can learn from other people’s mistakes.hr-blunder-of-the-weekIf you run a small to medium sized business, there’s a lot you can learn from the mistakes of larger companies. Big companies tend to be run by committees and boards, meetings and managers. As a result, they can’t be as nimble or as fast as smaller businesses.

Where they’re weak is often where you have the advantage. You can avoid these kinds of mistakes if you’re careful, because it’s much easier for you to change course if you see red flags.

Here are five of the biggest social media blunders made by Fortune 500 companies, analyzed so you can learn from them.

Mistake #1: Unclear Communication

Unclear communication from GoogleWhenever you put a message out to your market, you should make sure it’s crystal clear and that there are no conflicting messages.

Google made a big blunder with this when they released Gmail on April Fools Day.

Traditionally, Google had done an April Fools joke every year prior. For example, one year they announced Google PigeonRank, where websites were ranked by pigeons instead of technology.

When Google announced Gmail, most of the world took it as a joke. At the time, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail were both offering only 10 MBs in storage and Gmail comes out with 1 GB.

It took several days before the announcement was actually taken seriously and by that time they lost a lot of the initial momentum. According to a CNN article, Google’s VP of product did say that they did a bit caught up in the April Fools spirit even while launching a real product.

Mistake #2: Telling the User They’re Wrong

When Apple released the iPhone 4, there was a small bug with the antennae system. If you held the phone without a case in a specific way where you were touching one of the corners with your finger, you would completely kill the reception. Telling the User They’re Wrong

Steve Jobs’ response? “Don’t hold your phone that way.”

While Jobs was right that the bug really wasn’t that big a deal, his response was posted all over social media and was interpreted as them not caring about what the customer thought.

The whole ordeal almost killed the launch; until Jobs changed course and announced free cases for all iPhone 4 purchases.

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9 Tips & Tricks for Better Google+ Brand Pages

9 Tips & Tricks for Better Google+ Brand Pages

This article is a follow-up to our earlier post How to Use Google+ to Promote Your Product or Service.

In social media, Google+ brand pages are the way of the future. Using Google+ brand pages, you can create an informative, interactive profile for your fans on Google+ to connect with you. Few companies today are taking full advantage of what Google+ brand pages have to offer.

The easiest way to access your brand page is to go to your own Google+ page. Just click the drop down menu under your username to switch to your brand page’s view. Here you can edit the page, add people to circles and post status messages.

Here are top 9 tips & tricks for using Google+ brand pages to their full potential.

#1 – Creating an Easy to Reach URL

By default, Google+ gives you a custom URL that’s fairly difficult to read or remember. For example, your URL might be something like “plus.google.com/8723570370197390157.”

To make this easier for people, create a redirect on your own website to your Google+ brand page. For example, people should be able to reach this page by going to www.yourwebsite.com/googleplus/

You can also use Google+’s URL shortener to create a better URL on Google’s domain.

#2 – Add Buttons to Your Site

Want to make it easy for people to find your Google+ page on your site? Want to put live feeds of your status updates on your sites? Want to make it so people can re-post whatever you said with one click of a button?

It’s easy. Just add the respective Google+ buttons or widgets to your site. Access these under the “Get Started” menu in your brand page.

#3 – Don’t Share Your Visitor Count for the First Few Months

If you see that a page only has a handful of visitors, chances are you’re not going to want to visit that page. In other types of social media, like Facebook or Twitter for example, there’s not a whole lot that you can do about this.

However, with Google+, you can choose to hide your follower count. While this isn’t a good long term strategy, it can be very useful in the short term.

#4 – Give Great Resources

Google+ gives you the ability to add as many links as you want to your profile. The links can point back to content on your own website or to other people’s sites.

Make liberal use of this feature to point your users to the best possible resources for their problems.

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7 Effective Tips to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile into a Social Media Battle Winner

There’s one thing that separates LinkedIn from all the other social media networks out there: Everyone who comes to LinkedIn is there for a professional purpose. Your future employers, your future investors and your future business partners all likely have a profile on LinkedIn.

If you want to network professionally online, there is no better place than LinkedIn. Spending time to perfect your LinkedIn profile is therefore a high ROI activity.

Here are seven quick tips to help boost your LinkedIn profile.

Tip #1 – An Attention Catching Headline

An Attention Catching Headline

Your headline should be written so that anyone who sees your profile in the search results would want to click on your profile and learn more about you.

It should say something either unusual or incredible about you. It should stand out from all the other results. It should speak directly to your target audience.

Tip #2 – Have Someone Proofread Your Profile

Have Someone Proofread Your ProfileYour LinkedIn profile is your chance to make a professional impression. Having misspellings, grammar mistakes of factual inaccuracies on your LinkedIn profile is like going to a professional networking event with a mustard stain on your shirt.

Don’t blow the all-important first impression. Even one little mistake you miss could cost you a future job or client. Hire someone to proofread your profile before going live.

Tip #3 – Make Liberal Use of Recommendations

Recommendations are one of the most powerful things you could have on your profile. It’s the Make Liberal Use of Recommendationsone thing that people trust the most on a LinkedIn profile, because it involves other people recommending you.

Getting a few good recommendations can change your entire profile. Contact a few former employers, employees and co-workers to ask them to leave you a recommendation. Most of the tie they’ll be happy to do it.

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