In 2014, public relations are as much about conversing with customers on a one-on-one basis as it is about releasing press releases. Companies have traditionally relied on this form of media to give them a face, or public image.
Today, however, social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide a platform with which you can interact directly with your customers. This is an extraordinary opportunity, as it gives you the chance to show consumers that you’re more than a faceless corporation. Now more than ever, consumers want to know that they can reach you at a moment’s notice, and more importantly, they expect to be able to.
When you speak to your consumers, remember that you’re speaking to your audience. Your message isn’t buffered by the media. Be germane and up front at all times. Keep your messages concise, but friendly, and always address customer questions directly. Consumers are extremely sensitive to “the run around.” Additionally, when you engage with your customers via social media, your consumers expect the Who, What, Where and How, but they crave to be given this information by a familiar face.
One of the main advantages of supplementing your normal PR efforts with a consistent social media presence is that the interest you generate can help feed traffic created by your normal press releases. With this in mind, you should avoid bombarding your audience with a constant barrage of messages. Create a posting schedule, and plan to release more messages when you post your press releases. This will help you avoid exhausting your audience. This is especially important for businesses, as consumers will already assume that they’re trying to drum up business.
Embrace Brand Journalism
According to Roper Public Affairs, a series of articles can be more effective than a press release or any number of advertisements. In fact, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to learn more about a product or service through articles than through advertisements. While the press release will always be an important PR tool, you shouldn’t overlook the power of brand journalism, or content marketing, as marketers call it.
Brand journalism, put simply, is the practice of cutting out the middle man—the press—and instead speaking directly to customers. A risky venture, for sure, but if done correctly, you can generate massive brand awareness and trust. One powerful strategy entails creating a series of articles that expound on the content within a planned press release, and then promoting them via social media as the press release goes live. It’s important to note, however, that these articles should be information oriented. Don’t use them to hard-promote your product or service. Instead, use them to illustrate to your readers that you’re an authority in your niche.
Niche authority is one of the most powerful assets that you can possess, and unfortunately, you can’t create it with a press release alone. When consumers consider you an authority in your niche, they’ll be more willing to expose themselves to your products. This in turn, gives you a much higher chance of snagging the conversion. Being an authority renders PR much easier, as well. A strong blog and social media presence gives you the opportunity to tackle rumors and slurs head on. Early adopters of brand journalism include P&G, Cisco Systems, John Deere and Microsoft. These companies have brought on journalists to power their own websites, and they’re reaching customers directly with stories that blur the line between ad and news story.
5 Social Networks & Apps Businesses are Getting Creative On (Other Than Facebook, Twitter, G+ & Pinterest)
In 2014, some 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind. Facebook remains the platform of choice but according to a study by Pew Research Center, a striking number of users are now also diversifying to other platforms with some 42% of online adults using multiple social networking sites simultaneously.
As a business, you want to be where your customers are. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are obvious social networks you should be using to increase your business reach and impact but there are other popular social networks out there that you are neglecting and that can potentially do your business a lot of good.
For one, millions of people from all over the world use Tumblr every month to find, follow, and share information. Tumblr is the perfect social network empowering businesses to create content and get it in front of the audience they deserve. By all accounts, Tumblr gives you a means to create a brand identity you can be proud of and tell your story using any number of media including pictures, animation, text, music, video, and more.
– 125k new users sign up on Tumblr every day
– There are 140M blogs on Tumblr
– With 63B posts
All you have to do to tap into this traffic is sign up on the social networking site (a process that takes under 30 seconds) and you can create content and engage with the very active Tumblr community by being an authentic member. How you tell your story on Tumblr is entirely up to you. Tumblr also makes it super easy for businesses to syndicate content across the web and other networks.
Instagram is unlike any other platform. The single focus of this social network is captivating imagery and this gives brands an avenue for rich visual storytelling. How you tell the story of your brand is what makes you unique. Instagram, in turn, promises:
– An engaged community; Instagramers are passionate about the platform.
– A visual medium where captivating imagery takes the center stage
– And a beautiful and inspiring environment
– Instagram boasts 200M active monthly users
– With 65% of those users being outside the United States
– 60M photos are shared on the network everyday
– That generate 1.6B likes
Effective communication is never a one-way street. Perhaps this explains the popularity of social media with businesses. Marketing methods used in the past have not been very conducive to back and forth discussions, have they? But social media, that’s a different story. Social media marketing actually thrives on interaction and engagement between a business and its customers. The challenge is to make people feel valued. In social media, you acknowledge the needs and desires of your audience and work towards fulfilling them. More often than not though, getting the conversational ball rolling is easier envisaged than done.
So how can a business increase its Facebook Page engagement?
We’ll get to that in a minute but first, let’s cover how much traffic you can expect from Facebook.
– Facebook has over 1.5 billion users worldwide
– 699 million people log on Facebook everyday
– 700 billion minutes is spent on Facebook every month
With the right marketing strategy, you can tap into that traffic.
1. Posts with Less than 80 Characters Get More Engagement
When it comes to marketing on Facebook, you want your business messages to be short and succinct. Don’t take forever to get to the point and avoid overly long or complex messages. These lessen engagement rates. People don’t want to “read more”.
2. Using Emoticons and Images Increases Comments
Photos and graphic content tend to generate more comments and likes than any other type of content and that includes videos and status updates. So, to increase your Facebook engagement, how about you figure your way around Photoshop and have fun with images. Rather than posting a status update, how about you convert the message into an image or an infographic?
3. Questions Generate More Engagement
Making some of your Facebook posts interactive, for example, by asking a question or posting a “fill in the blank” style post will increase your Facebook engagement. The audience on Facebook reacts extremely well to little quizzes and trivia-type questions. This is a sure-fire way to get people to connect with your business.
Nike on Instagram
On Instagram, in addition to its primary @nike account, Nike runs other accounts including @nikebasketball, @nikefootballand @nikewomen.
The question is: Why? Why the extra accounts and the extra work?
You see, the reason why @nike is so successful on Instagram lies in its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of a community. And Nike built communities on Instagram defined by, not country borders, but by passion; the passion of fans and athletes from around the world.
@nikerunning is, for example, perhaps one of the most successful Instagram accounts. The way it brings together everything running related and the global running community is extraordinary and gives them a reason to feel that they are part of something bigger with hashtags like #werundirty. And all of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos.
General Electric on Instagram
General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now if you were ask to picture what the Instagram account of General Electric looks like, first off, you would probably wonder: Does it have an Instagram account? And secondarily, you will probably visualize photos of light bulbs or videos of how a refrigerator works.
Now let’s see how wrong you are.
The team behind @generalelectric is not here to promote appliances. Instead they are selling a bigger story; A story of powering, moving and curing the world.
Before Instagram, people didn’t know what General Electric stood for but in Instagram, the company saw the opportunity to develop an understanding for what GE does. In addition to successfully building awareness for its innovative technology, General Electric has managed to become one the most esteemed contributors to the Instagram community.
How they did it? It’s all about getting your messaging priorities to align with your business objectives and thereafter committing to a high bar for content for images posted typically once a day.
Ben & Jerry’s on Instagram
@benandjerrys is another Instagram account that deserves a special mention for the sheer way that it brings its ice cream brand to life on the social service. Focusing on things like key flavors, fun and the brand values, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011 and is now, one of the most successful accounts.
@benandjerrys is, in effect, a visual storytelling platform that connects people from all over the world. In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares on Instagram today are from community members.
A hashtag is a keyword phrase used in Twitter conversations that is preceded by a pound (#) symbol and written without any spaces in between, for example, #ilovefood. The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a Tweet and can be placed anywhere within a post. In social media, posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the often frenzied and messy world of Twitter and now Facebook.
The use of hashtags is not just for Twitter, although this is the most popular. Hashtags are also used for other micro-blogging sites including Google+, identi.ca and Instagram. Through the use of hashtags, different social media users from different countries can tie their conversations together; click any particular hashtag in a message and you will see the list of posts using the same hashtag.
In social media today, hashtags also allow an audience to interact live during events such as conferences, TV shows and political events. At any point in time, a comprehensive list of popular hashtags can be found at Hashtags.org. HootSuite is a third-party downloadable app, which also monitors hashtag activity.
Next, let’s talk about how to create a hashtag. First off, what you need to know is that it doesn’t take a genius to apply a hashtag to a message. All you need to do is type your text and then insert the pound (#) symbol at any part of the message and then send. Of course, the hashtag is not just any word. It has to be a carefully thought target keyword that is relatable so that other Twitter users will be inspired to use it as well.
Popular Hashtags of 2013
TV/Entertainment: #dwts, #glee, #idol, #xfactor
General: #news, #love, #photography, #fashion
Business: #jobs, #business, #marketing, #socialmedia, #startup
Tech: #android,#iphone, #iphonegames, #ipadgames, #app
Education: #edtech, #lrnchat, #teachers
Environment: #climate, #solar, #globalwarming, #drought
Social Change: #socialgood, #cause, #4change
Astrology: #gemini, #capricorn, #scorpio, #cancer, #pisces, #leo, #sagittarius,
Hashtag Fails of 2013
While hashtags are indeed a trend that is here to stay, some people and companies have totally failed when trying to make something big. Instead, it backfired…
R. Kelly created the hashtag in an attempt to promote his album titled “Black Panties”. However, users soon attacked the hashtag and talked about his dressing habits and sexual activities with minors.
After mistakenly naming a female celebrity after a male one (They called Alfre Woodard…Idris Elba… LOL!), a lot of fun was poked at the company. People started using the hashtag and uploaded pictures of black celebrities while captioning them with the names of other celebrities. Okay, I’m guilty of laughing at that one – you’ve got to admit; that’s pretty smart on the trolls’ part!
On November 20, 2013, Pinterest introduced Place Pins. Now, we are going to go deep into this latest addition to the Pinterest arsenal, but before that, let’s look at some updated Pinterest stats that will no doubt reflect the reason why Pinterest is not just another social network. It is, in effect, the fastest-growing social media site of all time and in its 3 years of existence, Pinterest has become a huge traffic referral for businesses.
1. The conversion rate of traffic referred from Pinterest is 50% higher than the conversion rate of traffic from other sources.
2. Pinterest users are spenders. They spend more money on more goods more frequently than Facebook, Twitter and Google+ users.
3. Pinterest generates four times more revenue per click than Twitter.
4. Pinterest generates 27% more revenue per click than Facebook.
5. 47% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on a recommendation from Pinterest.
6. 80% of Pinterest pins are repins, which means that, although Facebook is the all-time social sharing champion, Pinterest is not far behind.
With stats like those, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of businesses are leveraging the Pinterest platform to 1) help people discover them, 2) increase visits to their websites and subsequently 3) generate leads and sales.
And it’s working!
About Place Pins
Last year, right before the holiday season, Pinterest launched a new feature that will potentially benefit local businesses massively in increasing in-store traffic. This new feature is called Place Pins. Basically, Place Pins is a new type of pin. It allows Pinterest users to map their pins to certain locations. Originally, the point of this new feature was to benefit travel planners (Every day people pin about 1.5 million places of which more than 750 million pins are of travel destinations). But now that the feature is rolled out, it’s fairly obvious that it has great application for local businesses as well.
The Significance of Place Pins
In effect, Place Pins combine the beautiful imagery that you would expect of a travel magazine with the practicality of an attached online map that you can share with your friends. These maps can be accessed from anywhere on your Android device or iPhone. This means that, with Place Pins, you can find places and get directions on the go. Imagine how convenient such a tool would be if you were in the middle of nowhere in Spain and you needed somewhere to crash or somewhere to go for a warm meal. Place Pins also include details like an address and phone number right on the Pin.
To create a board of Place Pins, simply select “Add a map” when you create a new board. You can also convert an existing board to a board of Place Pins. You can then map your new and existing Pins on the board.
Twitter is the micro-blogging Godzilla. With 500 million Tweets a day and 230 million active users on the social site, everyday, people all over the world turn to Twitter to bring them closer to the things they care about, whether we are talking about world news or businesses down the block.
With numbers like these, Twitter can help your business in many ways.
1. Connecting your Business to What People are Talking About
One of the things unique to Twitter is that people take to this micro-blogging site to talk about things they care about and that could include your business. This gives you a powerful window to connect your business messages to what people are talking about at any point in time. Real-time engagement with Twitter users can help build your business.
2. Listening and Learning
Twitter is a very useful platform to gather valuable industry data, insights and intelligence. In real time, you can see what your competitors are tweeting about and you can get insights into how businesses are using Twitter to drive traffic, increase engagement and grow.
3. Growing your Business
Twitter is also a very good place to promote your business and increase its reach and impact. For example, if you want to grow your business, you can use Twitter as a platform to run promotions and to engage with your customers. To amplify your results, you can also turn to Twitter Ads.
About Twitter Ads – Advertising Tools to Get your Business in Front of More People
Twitter has three ad products.
- Promoted Accounts
- Promoted Tweets
- And Promoted Trends
Through these advertising tools, Twitter allows you to target the right people; In essence, your ads show for Twitter users who are most likely to be interested in your content, products and/or services.
The quickest way to build an active community on Twitter is to promote your account, the rationale being that the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are to spread your message and engage with your content.
Promoted Accounts can help you:
1. Reach more followers (who are interested in what you have to say)
2. Build a community of Twitter users who will vouch for you
With Promoted Accounts, instantly, your business gets exposed to the right people…and plenty of them. And using Twitter’s targeting option, you can get your Twitter account in front of more people who are like your current followers in terms of say geography or specific interests.
With Promoted Accounts, you can also track your results in real time. For more information about analytics, click here.
We are all familiar with what Facebook is all about. It is a space where people from all over the world come together every day to share their thoughts and participate in real-time conversations from the Premier League standings to Facebook acquiring messaging service, WhatsApp in a $19bn deal.
On January 16, 2014, Facebook announced a new trends section, which will directly compete with Twitter’s popular trends. This new feature is designed to surface the most popular topics of discussion on Facebook, in effect helping users find the best content from across the social site. Till last month, Trending was still being rolled out and is not yet available to everyone.
To the right of your News Feed on Facebook, you can now find a list of topics. It’s only available on desktop at the moment. This list shows you the most popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook but that’s not all. Unlike how Trends work on Twitter, this list is personalized based on things you’ve expressed an interest in. Each topic is accompanied by a headline. The headline briefly explains what is trending. For example,
Clicking on any headline will redirect you to stories from people and Pages who have shared them with you or have shared them as Public and you will be able to see what people are saying about a particular topic in one place.
It’s pretty obvious that Facebook is on a mission to become the go-to destination for finding out what’s hot on the Web. Previously, real-time social networks like Twitter was the site of choice for social network users to read on which topics are hot on social media. With Trending, Facebook has now joined the game. If it proves to be successful, Trending will most likely make the jump to mobile at some point in the near future.
Facebook Takes on Twitter Once Again
Yeah, that’s right. This is not the first time that Facebook has found inspiration in Twitter. Previously, Facebook introduced hashtags allowing its users to tag topics, a feature that Twitter pretty much pioneered.
With Trending, Facebook is taking one of several initiatives to become the home of news on the web. If sources are to be believed, Mark Zuckerberg’s next big product will be to launch a newspaper app that brings together content from various publications. Combine this with the real-time news factor that Trending has now brought to Facebook and the social site is well on its way to become the network of choice for people to learn about the hottest topics of the moment.
And with all the talk about Facebook losing popularity among the younger crowd, this new market could well be the sustaining force to make sure that the social network keeps its current users and add new ones. As mentioned before, Trending is currently being rolled out in several countries and as with the other Facebook features we’ve seen over time, continuous improvements will make perfect.
In this article, we will talk about the benefits local businesses can have by posting on their Facebook page. But before that, let’s address the question: Does it matter? Does it matter if I’m not Starbucks or BMW? You bet it does! Here is why…
While large corporate pages do have more Likes, Comments and Shares, studies have shown that when calculate the engagement per fan (that is, the number of Likes, Comments and Shares that each fan generates), the level is actually higher for local businesses!
What? How? Why? Well…
To begin with, fans are more likely to actually see a post coming from a local business. Why? Because it’s considered to be more relevant and personal (due to the fact that it’s happening in the same neighbourhood). Also, the posts made by local staff tend to be more relevant as they are able to post very specific timely and relevant things or events that are actually occurring in that particular area.
Also, you are more likely to ‘Like’ a picture of a cashier and someone in the neighbourhood you know, than a random ad with 2 people you don’t know.
These “familiar” feelings also explain the higher engagement per fan.
Now that we’ve seen how what you post will actually be seen and have an impact on people, let’s have a look at the actual benefits of posting on your Facebook page.
More Buzz about Your Business Online and Offline
Put simply, if people see you more often, they will talk and hear about you more often. Even if you don’t drink Red Bull as a habit, you’ve heard about it. And if some day you feel like having an energy drink, chances are, Red Bull will be your beverage of choice, even it’s a bit more expensive than its competing products.
People get the “good feel” of “knowing” a product, service or business, even if they don’t really know about it, just because they’ve seen it, heard about it, or see and hear people talk about it.
More Email Subscribers
For large corps who already have a list in place, they usually send out emails to encourage people to connect to them via social networks.
For small businesses, the other way round is more likely to happen. People are more likely to discover you on Facebook than directly stumble on your website.
So basically, if you don’t post, people will neither see your posts, nor your emails. So how about posting more often so that people can discover your website and sign up for your newsletter?
Some of your posts for example can offer hot tips or tricks that they can discover after subscribing.
Creating a comprehensive social strategy is a major marketing concern and a continued challenge with the social media environment becoming increasingly complex. However, it is the central element that businesses need to make sense of their social media presence. Without a social strategy, how will you know what to do, how will you measure your performance and how will you determine the ROI of your social media program?
The key to achieving excellence in social media is understanding the different components that make a comprehensive social media strategy.
Branding boils down to being consistent. Across the different social media channels, the same naming, imagery type and color scheme that is part of your branding need to be applied to social media. The challenge is perhaps to keep your voice consistent as well, which is the most important aspect of social media branding. You need to choose a voice to represent your business and choose a tone.
Content in social media provides a medium for businesses to engage with social media users. Informative and shareable content benefit a business’s social media presence. That being said, content is not limited to blog posts and photos. You can think outside the box. Infographics, memes and discussions (for example tweet chats) are all different types of content that you can include in your social strategy.
In social media, if you only talk about yourself, people will lose interest in what you have to say. To breathe life into your social media accounts, you need to curate content that is of interest to your fans and followers and promote it together with your own content. Does your social strategy include sources from which you curate content?
Over the web, there are over 50 active social networks with million of members each. You can’t and should not have a presence on each one of them. You need to choose which social networks to include as part of your social strategy and subsequently determine the best practices and tactical plans for each of these networks.
The next stop is maximizing your ROI for time and resources spent on each social network. No two social sites are alike and based on statistical data, you need to decide how much time and resources you will allocate to, for example, making posts on Facebook and tweeting. More frequent posting does not mean more effective social media marketing.