Let’s start this post with a question!
What do you do on your smartphone most often?
– Email clients?
– Check the news apps?
– SMS/Text messaging?
– Take pictures and/or record videos?
For those of us who are completely honest, there is no shame in admitting that, for the most part, our time is spent on the social networking apps behaving like “stalkers.” We observe and obsess over people, places and things that are meaningful to us.
On any given day, how many times do you honestly check your social apps to see what your friends are eating for lunch or whom they are hanging out with?
According to Adobe’s 2013 Mobile Consumer Survey, in 2012, there was a 31% and 180% increase over 2011 in smartphone and tablet users respectively in the United States. Consumers today are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to connect with brands through mobile-optimized websites and mobile apps.
Key findings of the 2013 mobile survey:
1. For consumers who have access to both a smartphone and a tablet, the device of choice remains the smartphone although tablets are rapidly rising in popularity.
2. Facebook is the dominant social network. It is accessed via mobile at 85%.
3. Twitter follows this number at 35% and Google+ at 21%.
4. The most popular social activity on mobile is to read status updates. Consumers are also using smartphones and tablets alike to view pages of their favorite brands.
In this era of emerging mobile-specific technologies, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity for brand differentiation.
Understand Your Audience Before you Address Them
Social media users fall under 3 different categories of people:
Thinkers use social media when they are contemplating whether or not to make a purchase. These are laid back people and are slow to act. 48% of Pinterest purchasers are thinkers that will favorite an item that they may or may not buy at a later date.
Questers are people actively researching a potential purchase. They are information gatherers looking for feedback on items they are interested in.
Leapers are people who get inspired by social media to make a purchase. You may think of this category of people as impulse buyers. They take action quickly when they see something of interest.
These customer profiles are key to developing a successful mobile social media presence.
Take a look through your Twitter or Facebook streams. Are your friends talking about the products and brands they are using? Chances are, yes, they are. How about you? Have you ever asked one of your social media peers to advise you on whether a new restaurant down the road is worth trying or not? Have you ever steered someone toward one specific product or service and away from another?
This is influence!
Influence, on social media, is the ability to change how others think and act. Often people think the definitive characteristic of an online influencer is how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers that person has. That’s not technically accurate. It does not matter if you run a blog where you post content everyday about a specific subject. Influence is measured by a person’s ability to drive others to change their opinion and take actions.
So in truth, anyone has the potential to influence another. Influencers are not necessarily people with the most arbitrarily awarded +K on Klout. The challenge therefore is to find the right influencers to engage. Some people have enough pull to drive a spike in web traffic and sales with a single status update.
The point is: As a brand marketer, it’s important to understand that influence can come in several shapes and sizes. Sometimes influence is predictable. Some industry influencers have an established reputation that spreads far and wide. Other times, an algorithmic tool such as Klout or PeerIndex can help you find potential influencers who can sway others on a specific topic. This is of course not a surefire method but only a tool you can use for some help.
Connecting with Your Industry’s Social Media Influencers is a Multi-step Process!
1. Identifying Influencers
When researching your industry social media influencers, the most important consideration is that any influencer outreach should support your existing business goals. You can’t get started without knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Your objective may include one or more of the following:
1. Demonstrate credibility and thought leadership
2. Generate inbound traffic
3. Enhance your business visibility through content creation
4. Build customer relationships
5. Move community members through the purchase funnel
6. Test new products and generate honest feedback
To find influencers who align with your business goals,
- Keep an ear out for conversations happening in your industry’s community, sweeping the social web to find conversations that matter to you
- Search the communities you found above to identify who is sharing content and who is most active there
- Dig deeper into these influencers by checking up on them on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.
- With a good list of potential influencers, you can now narrow down on 10 or 20 so the number remains manageable. This may require further detailed information about your influencers or you can look at Klout for their influential topics and ensure they are relevant.
Before making a purchase decision, people read reviews, feedback, testimonials or opinions on the web. If the reviews are positive, there is a greater probability of purchase. However, if the reviews are negative, people are likely to move on to something else. Therefore, positive opinions or reviews play crucial role in financial gains of individuals, organizations, and businesses. But, unfortunately, this leads to shady practices, like the posting of fake reviews, or opinion spamming.
The term opinion spamming refers to unethical activities such as posing fake reviews that mislead the consumers, for example: writing good things about a product that doesn’t merit the glowing review. Fake reviews also come in the form of negative opinions about competing products and businesses. This damages the reputation of the competition. It becomes obvious why detecting fake reviews is critical for both the consumer, and a business.
Detection or identification of fake reviews or opinion spamming involves the use of relational modeling
- Relationships: The complexity of relationships that exists among the entities (products, stores, etc), reviews, and reviewers
- Product related features: Some of the features that could be considered include sales rank, sales volume, and product description
- Reviewer abnormal behaviors: The public data that is available from online sites, like first reviewers of the product, frequency of posting, time of posting, reviewer id, etc. In addition to these features, the opinion spamming detection algorithm can also discover uncommon characteristics of these fake reviews. Another indicator of abnormal behaviors is the private/internal data of websites such as the reviewer’s physical location, time taken to post each review, IP or MAC addresses, etc
- Review Content: Some of the important detecting features include lexical features like parts-of-speech, grammar, words and grammar, or other lexical attributes. Style or content similarity of reviews obtained from different reviewers can also indicate opinion spamming. Semantic inconsistency is another feature that can be used for detecting fake reviews.
In addition to the above, you can also avoid fake reviews by avoiding fake accounts that exist on social media.
This is done by checking for the blue verified tick prior to liking or following a business’s, celebrity’s or brand’s social media profile or page. Both Twitter and Facebook now feature the blue verified tick. The blue tick badge that appears next to the profile name shows that the profile or page has been verified. Therefore, you must understand that a profile or page of any business or individual having lots of followers, likes, or positive comments, does not necessarily indicate its validity or genuineness.
Vine, a video app, also features a verified tick. If the Twitter account of the business or the individual is verified, then the Vine account will be automatically verified. However, another renowned social media network, Instagram, doesn’t feature verified badges. If you are in doubt, you must check the account’s official website. Genuine Instagram accounts always show links to business’s official website.
Humans are wired to respond to visual stimulation. As historically recorded, thousands of years ago, people narrated their lives in cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Today, art, books and various multimedia platforms have created a new narrative landscape populated by brands in many shapes and forms.
Everyday, the average person is exposed to hundreds of different advertising messages from hundreds of different brands. Of those, people tend to be most attracted to brands with authentic narratives and compelling imaging.
In the current digital era, social media is no doubt a great tool to increase your online presence. The problem lies in the fact that as more brands jump on the Internet bandwagon, marketing clutter can make it harder for your brand to stand out and compete.
Effective Visual Branding on Social Media
1. Build a Brand Narrative
– In the following video titled ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, author Simon Sinek explains his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. Addressing the question of why Apple always seems to surpass other computer brands, Sinek postulates that Apple’s success as a brand can be attributed to the fact that Apple believes in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. And did you notice the high quality and neatness of their photography?
The take-away: Determine why your brand is great and the kind of narrative you want to share with the world will emerge. Invest in high-quality photography, digital imaging and graphics.
2. Make Your Brand Memorable
Did it ever happen to you that you are spending an amazing day at the beach and suddenly, bursting out of the ocean, you feel like a Coke?
It’s not a coincidence!
Coke uses ‘red’ to associate excitement with their product.
Big brands have realized a long time ago that colors can impact how they appeal to their target audience. Color is more than just a hue. It makes a statement.
But you do need to be consistent with your use of colors. Social media includes virtually anything you post online. This includes but is not limited to tweets, Facebook posts, shares and web content. A brand’s authenticity relies on consistency.
Here is an excerpt from KISSmetrics’s infographic that gives some general guidelines on how colors affect American online shoppers:
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Let’s be honest. Facebook marketing is not as easy as some marketers would like you to believe. People do not have their credit card in hand, ready to buy, when they are checking out the pictures of their crush or when they are writing on their friends’ walls.
Actually, social conversion rates are less than a third of the rates of email conversions (0.71%, as compared to 3.19%, according to this study).
The thing is, email marketing is getting tricky, and not only because of the introduction of tabs. Even if email tabs are not a ‘universal’ feature (yet), people are already doing selective reading and opening on the go; they can tell who is writing to them, and who is trying to sell them something.
The solution? Dip your feet into social, too. “What? But you just said…”
I know, I know. I said it’s not as easy as people are led to believe, but it can be very effective if you do your marketing right; and that’s what this article is about!
1. Give People a Reason to Join and to Stay
Seriously, if people want to look at what you have to sell, they will check out your website or online store. That’s not what your Facebook page is for! Your page is here to gain fans AND to get them to engage.
This page, Just Girly Things, are doing things right. At this time of writing, 83.4% of their fans are actively talking about them.
Pretty sweet (and rare!). How are they doing it? By posting stuff like this:
(Spoiler Alert: For those who don’t want to spend minutes figuring it out, it’s Mario)
Their page is full of pictures. You’ve got to admit; that’s what Facebook is mostly about. Don’t have the time, money, or interest to invest in custom tiles for some engagement? No problem. Maybe you can post pictures like this instead:
(This “picture” has 19,728 Likes, 899 shares, and 831 comments so far…)
I think we can all agree that it’s not about the design. As long as you post something that is one or more of the following, you should be able to produce a nice response:
2. Share What’s Interesting, not Necessarily What You’ve Created
Let’s have a look at that Mario picture above. Do you think Just Girly Things did it themselves? In fact, the majority of their shares are taken from other places.