Social media has become one of the most effective forms of communication for organizations in today’s fast-paced world. With social media, company managers are able to strengthen relationships with their current consumer base via many different social platforms. It also allows company managers to target potential consumers who are not yet familiar with the organization and develop new relationships with them.
Much like a gun, while social media can be used for a company’s good, it can be dangerous for the company itself if used wrongly. There are a number of practices and procedures that company managers can develop that will help an organization manage its social platform strategies professionally and lower the chances of potential negative effects that can jeopardize an organization’s standing. This is known as a social media policy.
Here are 3 fundamental social media basics that company managers can implement into an effective social media policy and begin practicing throughout their organization:
1. Inform all Employees of their Role within the Organization
Advising all employees of the company’s mission statement, goals, and objectives is the first step in aligning all employees together in an effort to accomplish the organization’s sole mission. When employees understand the purpose of an organization, what the organization is attempting to accomplish, and that the organization needs the help of each employee to achieve its goals, employees will begin to understand their role in the company, take pride in their position, and take the organization’s desires seriously. Employees who respect their employer, and who take the company that they work for seriously, will become more aware of their own actions and will conduct themselves in a manner that prevents their employer from being represented in a negative light in public.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve all seen the importance of social media skyrocket for businesses.
- Facebook has over 1.19 billion active users monthly. This means that if Facebook were a country, it would have been the world’s third largest with 3.5x the size of the U.S population.
- 1 in 5 young adults aged between 18 and 24 use Twitter daily.
- Overall, Twitter receives an estimated traffic of 300K users per day.
- Between 2011 and 2013, LinkedIn experienced a 105% growth.
- 72% of online adults use social networking sites.
It’s safe to say that the need for businesses to get their social media marketing right is only going to get stronger over time.
Social Media Marketing 101
1. It all starts with picking the right types of social channels
Most marketers have limited time and resources to invest in social media. This makes deciding where to focus your social media energy an increasingly important decision. The thing to remember is that not all social media sites are created equal. Three things will determine which network you should sign up for.
- Your business objectives and goals
- Your customer demographic
- The type of product and/or service you offer
For example, if you run a website that sells beauty products, you will be sharing a lot of image-based content. This makes Pinterest an ideal social site. It also has a more women-skewed user base.
2. Publishing and Sharing Content
Many marketers limit their social media content to promotional updates. This won’t help you build trust or a community around your business. You need to broaden the scope a little. In addition to the occasional promotional update, try other types of updates including:
- Adjacent content. This includes content relevant to but not exactly about your business that may interest your audience.
- Joining conversations. Social media is all about interacting and communicating with people online. Take an interest in the conversations happening around you and jump in if you have something of value to add.
- Non-promotional company information. It’s always a good idea to humanize your brand on the social media sites. Let people in on what’s happening behind the scenes like if you’re doing any volunteer work or if you’re having a Christmas lunch for your employees.
- Humor is subjective and it’s not always acceptable so this type of post can be tricky. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, it’s always better to put safety first. Remember that a joke is supposed to be funny. Not awkward. Not inappropriate. And not painful.
Then of course, how often you should update your social media accounts is another important consideration. The bad news is that there is no best practice that’s set in stone. The best frequency for making updates will depend on what’s appropriate for your business, the best practices in regards to the social channels you use and your audience. You will need to experiment to know what works best for you.
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.
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.
Google is pulling the plug on Orkut on September 30, 2014. New accounts cannot be created anymore but if you already have an account for Orkut, you can still sign in by going to Orkut.com and signing into the Google account you originally used to sign up for the social networking service.
Until September 30, 2014, you can:
- Log in and play games/use your account
- Export your photo albums to Google+
- Download your Orkut information
To download your Orkut information in a single ZIP file, use Google Takeout. You can download the following information from Orkut:
- Your profile
- Scraps received
- Your photos
You can do this until September 2016.
After Orkut shuts down, you will no longer be able to:
- Log in to Orkut, obviously
- Export your photo albums to Google+
- Access the Orkut apps and games
Public communities will be viewable in a public Community Archive.
Orkut, the Journey
Orkut is a social networking site founded in January 2004. It was named after the Google engineer who developed it. His name was Orkut Buyukkokten. Clearly, Orkut was way easier to spell and use than Buyukkokten!
Orkut is easy enough to pronounce: The emphasis is on the “or” while the “kut” is short.
When it was founded, Orkut was Google’s first foray into social networking. The subsequent updates and redesigns made it a leading social network in India and Brazil in 2008.
- It was, at some point, the fastest and easiest social network to use. You could browse photos, check your friend’s profile and view updates faster than ever
- The homepage was excellent. Large photos, notifications that are easy to access and fast navigation, it was all there
- Being a Google product, Orkut also allowed for easy navigation to the other Google properties
- Photos were easy to upload and share. You could select multiple photos and upload them all at once, reordering them as you please by dragging and dropping.
Other than that, Orkut also allows for extensive customization of profiles. You could:
- Make your profile your own by picking your favorite theme and giving your profile a unique look
- Do more than just write about yourself in the “About me” section. You could add a Youtube video or even embed apps
- Find your friends quickly and easily. On Orkut, finding friends was one of the most important activities so the Orkut “find friends” feature was smart
Other commendable features of Orkut included:
- A more dynamic friend list
- Friends’ updates on your homepage
- Posting scraps
- Video chat
Social media is now held to the same standard as print and broadcast in the count of essential marketing channels for businesses. As such, your social media ROI needs to contribute to your bottom line.
The challenge is taking a look at your existing business goals and setting social media goals to complement them. For example, your business goal this quarter may be to generate a specific number of leads or it may be to increase your landing page conversion by 15%. And since social media is pretty top-of-the-funnel, the corresponding social media goals will probably revolve around increasing engagement and traffic to your site.
Social Media Metrics that Matter
So you are using social media to reach your business goals. Engagement is a great corresponding social media goal because it impacts a business three-fold.
- It increases traffic
- It grows brand awareness and builds a community
- It shows your voice
But “engagement” is not a concept as simple as the number of followers you have on Twitter or Facebook. It’s a fuzzy word digital marketers use to mean “interactions with your brand.” On top of this, you have to account for the fact that every social channel is different and unique in its own way and engagement isn’t the same for each.
So how can you measure social media engagement? And which tools do you use?
The most important social media metrics are touted to be:
– Conversation rate
This is the number of conversations per post. So on Twitter, this is the number of replies to a tweet and on Instagram, it’s the number of comments on any pin, post or photo.
– Amplification rate
In social media, any post that’s retweeted or reshared is, in essence, being amplified. So think of this metric as the number of repins, retweets and/or reshares a particular post garners.
– Applause rate
Every social network has a touch point to show applause. For instance, Twitter has favorites and Facebook has likes. Applause rate is based on this concept. It’s the number of “likes” a post gets.
– Economic value
This is, quite simply, the sum of short- and long-term revenue and cost savings.
– Relative engagement rates
And finally, should you ever wish to compare your conversion rate on Facebook as compared to your conversion rate on Instagram, this metric averages the number of conversations you accumulated per post per follower for each of your social media accounts.
How to Track Them
Once you establish your social media goals, the next step is to set up tools to measure the ROI on your social media. Measuring your social media efforts is critical to assessing whether or not you’re making an impact to the business.
To measure the ROI on your social media as well as social media success, there is a number of social media analytics software that you can use. Some to consider include:
A social media analytics software designed to help marketers get in-depth analysis and insights into their social media performance, Mondovo’s social tools include Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Facebook Competition Analyzer and Twitter Competition Analyzer. Access all your Facebook and Twitter data from one location and benchmark your performance against your competitors. With these tools, you will be able to keep a tight control over the nittiest, grittiest details that contribute to social media success.
– Facebook Analytics
View and assess the performance of your Facebook Fan Page. This includes but is not limited to measuring your page’s amplification, reach, impact and engagement trends, all in one place.
– Twitter Analytics
This tool is designed to let you view and understand your Twitter account performance. This includes but is not limited to measuring your account’s performance and engagement and keeping a tab on your followers, retweets, mentions and engagement trends. Measuring these metrics is essential to assessing the impact of your tweets on your audience.
– Facebook Competition Analyzer
In social media, it sometimes becomes important to benchmark your brand’s performance against competitors. With Mondovo’s Facebook Competition Analyzer, view and understand the audience and engagement trends of any Facebook page. This tool is designed to help you assess your position and relative performance compared to your competitors.
– Twitter Competition Analyzer
And finally, a tool very similar to the one we just saw above, if you want to analyze the audience, content and engagement trends of any Twitter account, Twitter Competition Analyzer is your solution. Stalking has probably never been this easy or this fun.
Offering 3 plans (Free, Pro and Enterprise), HootSuite is the preferred social media analytics tool of many marketers. With HootSuite, you can
– Manage your social assets
– Create engaging campaigns
– Find, track and nurture leads and customers
– Get to know your audience
– Be at the right place at the right time when your customers need you
Some of the products by HootSuite include:
– uberVU via Hootsuite: This tool gives you real-time data about your brand making it easy to track influencers, stories, trends and more.
– Analytics: Helps you get all the data about your social media outreach and displays it in comprehensive and easy-to-read reports.
– Hootlet: Lets you post to multiple social networks with one click. This saves time and extends your reach.
SocialMention is a social media analysis platform that allows you to easily view and keep a tab on what people are saying about you, your brand, a specific product or any topic across the web’s social media landscape. It monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and quite a few other social media networks to provide a real-time social media search and analysis service.
With SocialMention, you can also set up an RSS feed, email alerts or even add a real-time widget to your website. SocialMention’s Realtime Buzz Widget, for example, is a tool you can use to view the latest buzz about you, your brand or a product over the web.
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, graph-based methods, pattern discovery, and supervised learning. Some of the signals that can be used include:
- 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.