Whether your current sentiment towards social media leans more towards enthusiasm or trepidation, there is no denying that the number and popularity of social media sites has grown exponentially over the last several years. It is now one of the primary ways people communicate and interact online and this shift in web consumerism has great significance for businesses. After all, Facebook has over 1.44 billion monthly active users while Twitter has 236 million monthly active users.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest right behind China and India. Whether you run a small, local business or head a global enterprise-level operation, your customers are online and if you are not interacting with them on the social media networks, your competitors are.
In effect, social media gives you the opportunity to add value and even delight your customers. The key to success is using the right tools to pull site data and consumer data to help you focus your marketing efforts. And when it comes to social media, if knowing what kinds of content to publish and share is important, how you share and publish your content is equally (if not more) important. The challenge here is that there is no best practice set in stone. Your best posting time and frequency will depend, to a large extent, on your audience and their appetite for what you have to say.
However, like with most things when it comes to online marketing, some research has been conducted to determine the best times to post on the social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest among others. The findings from these researches can act as a general guideline in your efforts.
As you probably already know, everything you post on Facebook is content. If you want every piece of content to be an opportunity for increased engagement, when and how you post it matters. In particular, you need to investigate and assess what time of day your fans are most active. According to research, the best times to post on Facebook are as follows:
The best days to post are Thursday and Friday. According to Buddy Media, “the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook”.
The best time to post on Facebook is early afternoon. Furthermore, posts published at 1 p.m. get the most shares; Posts published at 3 p.m. get the most clicks.
By now, we’ve all heard how valuable (or even essential) social media can be for brands and businesses to interact with customers, engage with a community of people and build relationships with their customers beyond those that happen during normal transactions. These relationships in turn increase both customer loyalty and retention and increase your returns.
The key is to decide where to focus your social media energy. After all, not all social media sites and platforms are created equal so which social media channel makes the most sense for your efforts will differ for each and every business.
One network that has been consistently helping businesses to drive awareness, shape perception, develop relationships and turn their target prospects into leads and customers is LinkedIn. It is the world’s largest professional social network that connects colleagues, businesses and current/potential employees, all the while enabling community development and content sharing.
Available in 24 languages and with more than 364 million members, LinkedIn is a robust network to build authority and establish thought leadership with nearly three times the conversion rate of Facebook or Twitter.
Why Build a Presence for your Business on LinkedIn
1. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network with over 364 million registered users.
2. Two new members are added to LinkedIn every second.
3. The network is a gateway to top results in Google.
4. LinkedIn promotes personal branding. It also, like Google+, lends credibility to brands and businesses.
5. LinkedIn is a trusted platform.
6. It is a robust network for community development and content sharing.
6 ways to Optimize your Content Marketing on LinkedIn to Build Your Brand and Boost Quality Leads
1. Deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right people
Last year, LinkedIn opened up their publishing platform to all members empowering users to post original content, which becomes part of their profile. The challenge is to optimize your content to increase your business reach and impact. For example, if you want to increase engagement on LinkedIn:
– Focus on when to post. The best time is in the morning, Monday through Friday.
– Focus on post frequency. Statistically speaking, 20 status updates a month can help you reach 60% of your unique audience monthly.
– Focus on what to post. LinkedIn members are interested in things like industry insights and new products/services.
– Focus on content type. Increase your LinkedIn engagement by including a link with your post, using strong images, making your headlines clear and compelling and linking to relevant videos. Read more
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.
Social buttons, strategically placed on your website and at the top of any content you share with your audience, makes your website more social. They help spread content organically and aid general search engine optimization. The question is: How many social buttons are enough?
Too few may limit the reach and impact of your business.
Too many may dilute your impact on the most important social sites.
What to do?
Pick the most valuable social buttons and drop the rest.
Facebook has over 1.1 billion users. It is by far the most widespread social network and it is the platform that receives the highest levels of engagement. If you have to pick ONE social button to include on your website and at the top of your posts on your blog, it’s a no-brainer that a Facebook “Like” button would be the obvious choice. Traffic on Facebook is too heavy for marketers to pass on it.
Second to Facebook in popularity is Twitter. Twitter has over 500 million users although, statistically, only 200 million of the users are actually active. However, Twitter is a much more open channel of communication as compared to Facebook: users can ‘follow’ whomever they please. This makes Twitter ideal for sharing content. The Twitter button is valuable.
Although nowhere as popular as Facebook, the social network by Google offer the unique advantage that it is by..well Google. It does not matter how many users are actually active on Google+ or what the level of engagement is like on the social network, the Google ‘+1’ button is valuable for the simple reason that it is helpful from an SEO perspective. It is no secret that social signals are now important ranking factors. Social shares are important to Google, especially Google +1s.
Predominantly a business-oriented social network, whether or not you should include a LinkedIn social button on your website and blog is something you will have to assess for yourself. LinkedIn is not a platform people use for entertainment . In fact, most people sign up on LinkedIn for the purposes of recruiting employees, looking for a job or staying in the loop with business networks.
In any B2B marketing strategy, the end goal is lead generation. The key to success lies in building credibility and asserting your leadership in a desired industry. Therefore, any B2B marketing strategy begins with a workable and solid social media plan. The brand will need a strong social media presence aligned with its B2B marketing strategy in terms of promise, value proposition and end goal.
The best social network for B2B marketing depends on the following factors:
1. The audience of the social site
2. Your target audience
3. Type of content on the social site
4. The purpose of the social site
5. The tone of the social site
Now, let us look at each of the leading social media networks to evaluate their features and suitability.
Google+ is rapidly escalating as a social site for businesses with over 350 million active users as of March earlier this year. This places Google+ ahead of several social networks including YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn in terms of the population of active users.
For businesses, Google+ has special advantages. Any content posted on Google+ can potentially rank higher in the SERPs. Feature-rich content like online videos and images embedded within written content also gains more exposure.
If you are using Google+ for B2B marketing, feeding content to your Google+ account from your YouTube channel or Pinterest board is a good idea. With Google’s social site, you can also create a business page.
Google’s Hangout application is yet another useful bonus for B2B marketing. Equipped with nothing more than a webcam and an audience, you can hold video conferences with business owners talking on Google+. Note that these video conferences can subsequently be published on YouTube.
The drawback when it comes to Google+ is that the social site is more of a content delivery system than a way for businesses to promote engagement.
LinkedIn is a social site that has plenty of what Google+ lacks. It is the perfect platform for businesses to build relationships with other businesses as well as customers. LinkedIn was, as a matter of fact, created to be a platform for business professionals to interact and in recent years, LinkedIn has reached 225 million active users in approximately 200 different countries.
The advantages of using LinkedIn for B2B marketing are several:
– Personal branding for business executives
– Sales development
– Business development and
– Marketing opportunities
The key to marketing success on LinkedIn is to use the social site daily to provide support for your connections. Also worth considering is the B2B advertising option on LinkedIn. A business can run an ad by a number of criteria including location, industry, company and other such demographics.
LinkedIn is perhaps the most game changing tool to come along in the world of networking since the invention of the business card. In the past, to network with people who could help you with your business or career, you had to physically go to a networking event. You had to go to your local Business Networking International meeting, your local Toastmasters club or your local Chamber of Commerce to meet like minded people.
This took time and could only be done every once in a while. Even the most avid networkers could only manage about one mingler a day. Most won’t even go to one a month. LinkedIn changes all that by making networking all digital. Today, connecting with the people you need to connect with is just a few clicks away.
That said, navigating the world of LinkedIn can be very tough. Movers and shakers have dozens of connection requests every week. How do you make yourself stand out, so you can build a relationship with them – where so many others fail? These five steps will help.
1. Come Up With a Winning Value Proposition
Before you connect with someone, think of something valuable that you can do for his or her company or career. Don’t go looking for handouts.
In other words, don’t begin a new interaction with someone you’ve never met by asking them to help you get a job. Instead, come up with a way that you can help them. This is the value proposition you’ll use in your initial message.
2. Find People who’ll Compliment Your Business or Career
Look for people who could help you move forward in the world. Look through your friends’ connections, your clients’ connections and your business associates’ connections.
Look for people with whom you could form a win-win relationship. For example, let’s say you’re a real estate agent. Ask yourself: What kind of people could you find win-win connections with? One answer might be a mortgage broker or loan associate.
People will often go to get pre-approved for a mortgage before they go looking for homes. People will also often look for homes before they’ve secured financing. Both of you will be able to refer business to one another. Win/win.
3. Making the First Contact
The first contact should be all about them. Lead out with your value proposition. Tell them exactly how you want to help them and why it’d be worth their time to accept your connection and discuss your proposition further.
Make your first message concise, to the point and powerful. Don’t tip toe around the issue. Your value proposition should be powerful enough to get people to listen. Going on and on will just dilute the power of your message.