Not so long ago, the majority of people and businesses alike were questioning the value of social media as a channel for consumer-brand interactions. Now most businesses have some kind of social media presence. The process of acquiring leads through social media is called social media marketing. Sometimes it’s also referred to as inbound marketing. Occasionally though, another term is used as a further variant and that’s community management.
Now there is a great difference between social media marketing and community management. You see, social media marketing and community management are two practices that share some overlap but they are very distinct from one another and cannot be used interchangeably. If you’re going to be successful at either, you absolutely need to understand the difference between the two.
For example, here is a situation for you: You run an online shoe store and you receive a very positive comment on Twitter from a customer who made a purchase recently and would like to promote it to his or her followers. Do you forward this comment to your social media manager or to your community manager or both?
Perception vs. Reality
To be fair, it’s not so hard to see how social media marketing and community management may have become entangled over time. In truth, social media marketing is often a very poorly defined process boiled down to a simple matter of promoting your business using social media. This is a very broad and vague description that may simply mean maintaining a Facebook page or it could encompass creating customized content for different social media platforms, branding, public relations and developing a voice for your business.
Similarly, community management is often defined as any and all attempts made towards cultivating an audience for a business. So technically, as a business, if you’re posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter with the intention of building your social media audience, this falls under the definition of community management.
Therein lies the confusion. In truth, as mentioned above, social media marketing and community management are related terms with some overlap between the two practices. The distinction lies in the intention.
Community Management vs. Social Media Marketing
Here is the deal: Social media marketing is just like any other type of marketing. Therefore, the job description of a social media manager is to ultimately drive more sales for your company, usually by increasing the reach and impact of your brand. So a social media manager is a strategist with the primary role of designing strategies to align your social media efforts with your business objectives and subsequently increase any return on your investment (ROI).
In contrast, a community manager is a builder of relationships with the primary role of building relationships and a community so people feel loyal to you and your brand. The community manager is also responsible for advocating the brand on the different social platforms and increasing engagement as well as awareness for the company. Read more
In the last 10 years, social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, have seen an explosion of growth, both in terms of the number of users and popularity. Facebook, for instance, has 1.39 billion monthly active users and an average of 890 million daily active users while 89% of 18-29 year olds are on at least one social network. Clearly we live in an era where social media is a predominant way for people to interact and communicate online. For businesses, this rise in social media spells two things – opportunity and responsibility.
Indeed, social media is an opportunity and not only because of the audience on the different platforms but also the sheer amount of data that customers make readily available to marketers. The question is: Are you listening? After all, the magic of social media lies in its application in growing long lasting and scalable relationships with your customer base. Therein also lies the pitfall of the social networks. You have an online responsibility towards your customers. At the end of the day, social media can make or break your business.
Some social media practices that could hurt your business include:
1. You’re Publishing the Wrong Kinds of Content
Marketers often make the mistake of using the social networks for the sole purpose of pushing promotional content and updates. The problem with this lies in the fact that social media is all about building trust, engagement and community. There is a time and place for promotional messages but you also have to add value to the conversations and interactions you have online by sharing content meant to indulge or help your customers.
For instance, not every post you make on social media has to come from an original idea of yours. Sometimes responding to what others are saying and bouncing your ideas off them could be as plausible a way of getting yourself heard as any. Then there are other types of content such as non-promotional company information, for example if your employees are taking part in some volunteer work or if you have a job opening for job seekers.
2. You’re Publishing too Much Content too Often
How often should you post on the social networks? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Sadly though, there is no right answer to this. There is no best practice set in stone because the social networks, for example Twitter and Facebook are very different from one another. One thing that’s true for all the social media sites is that updates and posts don’t last long and users move on to more recent items quickly. The other consideration is the type of organization you are. A media publication, for instance, can get away with many updates a day whereas a online shoe store sending out updates at such a frequency will exhaust and consequently turn off users. One thing you absolutely don’t want to do is talk just for the sake of it. Content you post on social media should add value to the community around your brand or business.
Founded in March 2006 and launched in July that same year, Twitter has a short history of 8 years and in that time, the online social networking service went from 5,000 tweets a day in the year following its launch to 500,000,000 tweets a day as of 2013. This corresponds to an average of 6,000 tweets every second and a total of 200 billion tweets a year. As of December 2014, Twitter also boasts of 500 million users, of which an estimated 284 million are active users. Clearly, Twitter is one of the biggest social networks today and as a business, it makes sense to be on Twitter and of course promote the sharing and widespread distribution of your content by optimizing your website and blog to be more Twitter friendly.
But what makes a blog Twitter friendly? The truth is, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, everyone in the digital marketing world understands the value of marketing on Twitter but not everyone understands what it takes to encourage sharing on the social network. In essence, making a blog more Twitter friendly is a two-part process and each process, in turn, involves a number of steps.
- The first process is creating content that will do well on Twitter.
- The second process is fine-tuning the technical aspects of your individual blog posts and the business blog in general for better results on the social network.
Let’s take a look at the steps to create a business blog more prone to widespread distribution and sharing.
1. People on Twitter like Statistics and ‘Snackable Content’
The average adult has an attention span of 8 seconds. This is a number down from 12 seconds in 2000. Obviously, as the years go by, we are not getting more patient. Quite the opposite actually!
Correspondingly, in the content-saturated and distraction-rich world of social media and by extension, Twitter, marketers have a need to grab the attention of consumers quickly, giving rise to the concept of snackable content. When you create content, make it a part of the process to include snackable bits and pieces of information easy to share on social media and ergo Twitter. In particular, you can choose to add things like statistics or compelling quotes in the body and these can serve as useful resources for easy Twitter sharing and content distribution.
A useful plugin to easily create tweetable content and promote sharing on Twitter is Click to Tweet. Use it to highlight snackable parts of your blog posts and make it practical for readers to automatically add the message to their Twitter status box.
2. Use Quality Visual Content
According to findings by Jeff Bullas, adding images to blog posts increases its total number of views and engagement and a blog’s overall number of readers, subscribers, followers, and leads. In essence, visual content serves to break up written content and make it easier for readers to go through the whole post without bouncing. Now, if you are optimizing your blog for Twitter, adding visual elements to your posts should be more strategic with at least one image featured prominently, either as the header of the piece or as one of the first images and adjusted to the right image ratio for sharing on Twitter. The ideal image dimension for Twitter posts is 1024px by 512px.
Many organizations are realizing the important role that social media plays in the marketplace today and as such, have started using it as part of their marketing and advertising strategy. While large corporations may have plenty of funds to allocate towards advertising on social platforms, many companies are not seeing the expected rate of return on their hefty social advertising investments.
A lot of business managers have approached social media by marketing their organizations to consumers as a business, as opposed to just simply interacting with consumers as if they were real people. Social networks are meant to be “social”. People want people talking to them; not a faceless corp.
Some organizations have fallen into the trap of talking “at” their consumer base on social platforms in an effort to reach their bottom line, instead of talking “with” their consumer base to genuinely learn more about them. As a result, many organizations are experiencing a lack of interest and interaction, from consumers on social media despite having large followings on many social platforms.
Here are 3 steps business managers can use to begin genuine interaction with consumers to stimulate interest and interaction on social media:
1. Avoid Using Social Media Simply to get More Customers into your Sales Funnel
While every organization is in business to grow its consumer base and generate sales, business managers must realize and remember that business is not always about the bottom line. There are times when business is about setting a good example and being a leader in the marketplace. One way that organizations can lead by example and demonstrate leadership is by giving back to the very community that helps the organization generate revenues.
Businesses can interact with its consumer base across many different social platforms to generate ideas for social causes that its consumers find important and worthy of attention. When consumers see that an organization, particularly a large organization, is ready to listen to them, they are more likely to get involved with the brand socially (translation: More likes, comments, and shares!).
It’s amazing how a lot of the things that we do repeatedly can be automated. And it’s even more awesome that apart from us, marketers can benefit from that. Today we are going to talk about 10 browser extensions that were designed for social media marketers.
Buffer is a social media management tool. It allows you to share stuff you find to your friends and followers. It also allows you to schedule things to be shared for later.
Now you don’t even have to open a new tab to sign in to do that; you can just download the extension for your browser. It’s available on Chrome, Safari, Firefox here.
Sometimes we find something to share while we are on the go, but we might not want to share it right-away. This can happen when for example, you’ve just shared something else 2 minutes ago.
In those instances, Evernote Web Clipper might come in handy. This tool allows you to collect things you find on the web on the go, right from your browser window. It’s available on Chrome, Safari and Firefox here.
3. Instagram for Chrome
With a rating of 4 out of 5 stars based on 10,000+ reviews, this Chrome extension certainly deserves a mention on this post.
The Instagram for Chrome extension allows you to do almost everything that you can do in the Instagram official app, without ever leaving the browser window that you are using. Comment or like photos or browse your friends any time you want, right on the same screen. You can download it here.
4. Riffle by CrowdRiff
This nifty tool turns you into an instant Twitter-user analyst. It gives you an in-depth insight on a bunch of useful data, like the:
- Retweets to tweet ratio
- Favorites to tweet ratio
- Top hashtags
- Top mentions
- Top URLs
- Average tweets per day
- And more…
It allows you to see who is really important in the Twitter community (so basically, who you need to actually spend your time on to produce real results). Get this mini-detective for free here.
What if you could get the perfect hashtag for your tweet? A lot of people seem to fail miserably when it comes to the use of hashtags. They either use something that has been used to death or words that are a little bit too… “unique”.
Ritetag is like a hashtag-good-ometer. It tells you how well a hashtag is performing right now. It’s available on Chrome, Safari and Firefox here.
Over time, we’ve all seen businesses, celebs and politicians fail epically at social media. When a campaign burns to the ground, there is always an underlying reason. For example:
- Humor only works on social media if you’re actually funny
- Twitter bots are dangerous
- Customers can be critical and it’s impossible to please everyone
Then there is another reason. The good old maxim “any press is good press”. But that’s unlikely in most circumstances. The social media landscape today is way too precarious for businesses to deliberately make blunders for publicity.
What You Can Learn from the Worst Social Media Mistakes in Recent Years
1. Your Facebook or Twitter Account is an Extension of You
– London Luton Airport
In March 2013, London Luton Airport was slammed for using the picture of a fatal crash in Chicago, which killed a 6-year-old boy, in a Facebook post that was meant to be amusing. The caption read:
“Because we are such a super airport….this is what we prevent you from when it snows……Weeeee :)”
The insensitive picture was removed within 90 minutes after it was posted following an outrage by Facebook users.
– American Airlines
Called the “largest, shittiest airline in the world”, American Airlines replied to a tweet by an obviously unhappy customer with “Thank you for your support! We look forward to a bright future as the #newAmerican.” The tweet has since been deleted but this just goes to show that while there are some situations where an auto-tweet is acceptable (for example when someone subscribes to your monthly newsletter), there is a danger to auto-responding to everything.
2. Don’t Tie your Business to an Unrelated Event just Because it’s Trending
Baked goods purveyor Entenmann learned the hard way that words can be a tricky thing. Following the verdict in the controversial Casey Anthony murder trial, Entenmann sent out a tweet that read:
“Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!”
Naturally, there was backlash and the inevitable apology wasn’t long in coming.
Maybe it was ignorance or maybe it was heartlessness but following the Aurora Shooting in the early hours of July 20, 2012, CelebBoutique made a massive and unforgivable social media misstep tweeting:
“#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress;)”
The company’s PR clearly did not have the time or inclination to check on why Aurora was trending and the resulting tweet was incredibly insensitive. They later followed up with an apology and an explanation about what happened.
According to iResearch data collected in April 2014, WeChat is now the #1 mobile chat application in China ahead of Sina Weibo and Qzone in terms of effective usage time. But what is WeChat? And why are major brands and businesses including Nike, Burberry and McDonald’s breaking into this app for marketing?
WeChat is an innovative mobile chat application that as of September 2013 has over 350 million registered users. The app was launched in 2011 and has been climbing the ranks of mobile applications ever since. On November 25 2012, WeChat was reported to be the top ranked iOS social networking application in 6 different countries including Hong Kong, Argentina and Thailand. The service supports voice and text messages, videos and pictures.
The popularity of WeChat has to do with a number of factors:
1. The users on WeChat are authentic. Because WeChat requires a telephone number, it’s the strictest social media platform in China.
2. Official WeChat account holders can reach their target audience directly which they can, in turn, choose to categorize based on demographic data.
3. WeChat provides an integral communication platform allowing registered users to interact with their friends and favorite brands through text, pictures, videos and voice messages.
- WeChat was launched in 2011
- As of September 2013, WeChat has over 350 million registered users with 100 million users outside of China
- Approximately 50% of WeChat users are between the ages of 25-30.
With stats like these, no wonder WeChat is one of the marketing channels businesses are successfully using to reach Chinese consumers. The challenge is to get WeChat marketing right. This includes:
- Defining the role of WeChat as an extension of your marketing strategy
- Defining your content strategy to keep your content stream fresh and interesting
- Defining your target audience to push relevant content
- Promoting your WeChat QR code
- Understanding the concept of “Throw A Bottle, Pick Up A Bottle.”
- Being personal and humorous
- Using voice messages to connect with your audience
- WeChat also has a Location Based Service (LBS) function, which allows businesses to reach clients and customers who are nearby
And while most brands are still trying to find their foothold using China’s number one social mobile app for marketing, some have already jumped on the WeChat bandwagon and are maximizing its potential as an extension of their CRM system.
5 Brands That are Getting WeChat Marketing Right
Starbucks was one of the first companies to create a WeChat account in 2012 shortly after it opened up to brands. The coffee chain’s first round of marketing activity took place between August 28 and September 30 that year and it used a simple idea: A user of the app sends an emoticon to Starbucks. Starbucks then returns a song that reflects the mood of the emoticon originally sent.
By the end of that first marketing campaign, Starbucks had amassed 62,000 fans on WeChat.
Do you ever wonder why some posts on Facebook go viral while others barely collect a dozen likes?
It’s not about luck if that’s what you’re thinking! A Facebook post going viral has little to do with luck and everything to do with what you post, when you post it and the words you use to send out your social message. For example, Facebook users are known to share content relating to certain topics more than others including posts about positivity, technology and health. And if you use certain words like “Facebook”, “Why” and “How” in your title, the corresponding post tends to get more likes and shares.
So with these considerations in mind, how can you maximize your overall user engagement on Facebook?
What you Need to Know about Facebook Engagement?
Worldwide, Facebook has over 1.5 billion users. Of those, 699 million people log on Facebook everyday with the average user spending 15 hours 33 minutes on the social network every month. In total, the traffic to Facebook every month amounts to 700 billion minutes.
To tap into that traffic, certain skills, stats and tips are more useful than others.
- Posts with 80 characters or less get more interaction
- The use of emoticons in posts increases comments
- Question posts get 100% more engagement comments wise
- Quotes collect 26% more likes and 19% more shares than “normal” posts
- Posts published on Thursday and Friday receive 18% more engagement. This number increases to 32% on weekends. The best time to post on Facebook is 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. to get the most shares and clicks
- Contents relating to some topics get more engagement than others. The top 5 topics include sex, positivity, learning, technology & social media and food & drink in that order
- 80% of U.S social media users prefer Facebook to the other social networks as their preferred way to connect with their favorite brands.
A 4-step Process to Increase your Facebook Engagement
1. Use the Right Social Media Tools to Inform Your Marketing Strategy
With tools like Mondovo, Hootsuite and SocialMention, you can build a brand that resonates with people. Think about it. Do you know if your social media efforts are paying off? With the right tools, you can narrow down on the social channels that are sending you the most traffic. You can listen to your audience and join relevant conversations. If you can identify your best content and most engaging posts, you can create more of what your audience wants from you.
Most social marketing strategies are currently centered on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest but WhatsApp may be the next major thing. Facebook definitely thought so. The WhatsApp purchase (when Facebook dropped $19bn to acquire the IM service) left a lot of people confused. But only until it struck them that WhatsApp reached around 450 million active users since US citizens Brian Acton and Jan Koum founded it in 2009. It’s also estimated that the growth rate of the service is about 1,000,000 new users per day with a high percentage of these users residing outside the US.
If you do the math (so cost per user), it becomes pretty clear why Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp makes a lot of sense. Especially when you consider the fact that the acquisition meant that Facebook effectively got access to the user information of nearly 500,000,000 new customers.
WhatsApp for Business
With that said, WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that prides itself on providing users with a simple, personal and real time messaging platform and having no ads, no games and no gimmicks. But marketers have found ways to leverage the popularity of WhatsApp for business.
The question is, how do you use an instant messaging service to help your business goals?
The answer is pretty simple. Think about it. In countries where text messaging is expensive or less accessible, WhatsApp is very popular. Users of the app heavily rely on it to connect with their friends and family and save on their cell phone bills. Small businesses in countries like India have leveraged this fact to communicate and engage with their clients and customers. And the new link between Facebook and WhatsApp makes this communication and marketing channel even more intuitive.
Fair enough, for marketing purposes, it’s critical that businesses maintain an active social media presence but WhatsApp… WhatsApp takes it to the next level by enabling instant messaging between businesses and prospective customers.
Even as we are talking about it right now, in some countries, businesses have started to put their WhatsApp number on billboards and their website. This is particularly true in the case of specialized businesses in India according to the Economic Times.
So essentially, while Whatsapp may not currently be a comprehensive solution when it comes to social media marketing, it’s getting there. Businesses can use WhatsApp for:
WhatsApp is obviously a powerful platform to connect with potential customers. By incorporating WhatsApp in your marketing strategy, you can open a new channel of communication between your sales team and WhatsApp users.
2. Customer Retention
With WhatsApp, you can hope for a closer and more personal relationship with your customers. The instant messaging service enables you to send out quick updates, address customer queries, follow-up on a sale and resolve complaints.
Every brand has a story. Instagram is a platform that’s unique in its singular focus on captivating imagery and providing brands with an avenue for rich visual storytelling.
Why use Instagram for Business
- It’s a tight community: Instagrammers are passionate about the platform
- It’s very visual: Instagram’s simple design allows captivating imagery to take center stage
- It’s beautiful: Instagram is a creative and inspiring environment
But Let’s Also Cover Some Stats
- Instagram boasts of 200M monthly actives
- With 65% of the users residing outside the U.S.
- Instagram is home to 20B photos
- It generates 1.6B likes daily
- And 60M photos per day
Brands are some of the most creative contributors to the Instagram community.
- Ben & Jerry’s reached 9.8 million users and saw a 33-point increase in ad recall
- Levi’s, the classic American retailer reached 7.4 million people and saw a 24-point lift in ad recall
- America’s Taco Bell was the first restaurant to advertise on Instagram. The response was tremendous, including a 29-point lift in ad recall
Clearly, Instagram makes a strong case when it comes to social media platforms businesses should use to increase their reach and impact. The challenge is to determine what’s unique about your brand and then share it with the world.
Useful Content Strategy Tips
- Start with clear goals: Your Instagram account should fit into your overall brand marketing strategy
- Choose a theme that’s authentic to your brand and tells a cohesive story through captivating imagery
- Produce high-quality images and videos that are well crafted. The content you create should feel at home on the platform
Photo Taking, Editing and Sharing on Instagram
First off, to produce images and videos that are well crafted, you need to know the exact image sizes used by Instagram. Instagram image size used to be 612 pixels in width by 612 pixels in height. Recently, this image size was slightly increased. The current image size is 640 pixels in width by 640 pixels in height.
So first things first, remember this image size for all content you create for marketing on Instagram.
1. Photo Editing Tips
Once you’ve taken a photo, you can edit it by applying effects. Instagram provides a suite of photo-editing tools including:
When you take a photo using the Instagram in-app camera or upload a photo from file, you can straighten it using the Adjust tool.
You can add a border to any filtered photo.
Lux makes your photos more vibrant and brings out details you couldn’t see before.
Other photo-editing tools include:
– Brightness: It makes your photo brighter or darker.
– Warmth: It shifts the colors of your photo towards warmer or cooler tones.
– Vignette: It darkens the edges of a photo.
– Highlights: Use it to adjust the focus on the bright areas of an image.