Tell you what, if you go to my Facebook profile right now, you will see that, over time, I “Liked” at least a dozen high fashion brands and two dozen local attractions including restaurants, hardware stores and a few travel agents. For one, there is this little French restaurant 3 blocks over that I have been meaning to drop by for quite some time now. Then there is dinner cruise I am always thinking I will book one day for my birthday or Valentine’s Day.
Basically, I am a potential customer for each and every one of these businesses and I absolutely love the fact that Facebook and the other social networks make it so easy for me to keep up with what’s happening around me. I mean, if tomorrow, the little French restaurant is having a special event like say 50% off steaks, I would want to know but at this point, I am not an actual customer of any of the establishments I “Liked” on Facebook. My “Like” means very little. And I’m not even talking about tweets or +1s!
So here is a question for you marketers.
Why are you guys still obsessed with Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Is it getting you anywhere?
You need to realize that at the end of the day, social media is all about increasing your business potential. A good social media campaign increases the reach and impact of your brand and exposes you to the right people. But an even better social media strategy involves work that converts this potential into action.
So are you ready to get your social media strategy right? Let’s get started!
1. Don’t Be an Attention-whore. Be Tactful!
For social media success, you need eyeballs on your content. What you need to know is this: Getting on people’s radar is a tactful process. You can’t mastermind crazy stunts to build your brand awareness. Sure, faking a hack (*cough* Chipotle *cough*) might draw some attention, but do you think that kind of brand awareness leads to action?
If you are going to invest in social media marketing, make sure people talk about you for the right reasons. You want your followers and Facebook fans to convert into buying customers.
Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm is dead. In fact, it’s been dead for the last two and a half years. Instead, the social networking service is using a more complex algorithm based on machine learning. The current News Feed algorithm doesn’t have a catchy name but it is estimated that as many as 100,000 individual factors are involved in organizing and producing a Facebook user’s News Feed.
Facebook’s original News Feed ranking system worked around 3 variables:
3. Time decay
Affinity is a one-to-one function between a Facebook user and an edge. In Facebook’s EdgeRank, an edge is anything that happens on Facebook. It can be a status update, a like, a comment or a share. For businesses, affinity quantifies and qualifies the connection between a brand and a fan. Affinity is built when a fan repeatedly interacts with a brand’s edges.
On Facebook, a comment is deemed more valuable than a like because it involves more engagement. In the “weight” system used by Facebook’s EdgeRank, certain actions have more value than others. All edges are assigned a value.
Time decay is a measure of how long an edge remains alive. Mathematically, time decay equals 1/(time since action) and the older an edge, the less valuable it is. This serves to keep Facebook’s news feed fresh.
So with EdgeRank, the way people used Facebook determined what stories showed up in their News Feed. This is still the case but now, there are some other factors that also come into play.
Each month, more than a billion people use Facebook. Users are accessing millions of Pages (over 18 million Pages to be precise), many of which actively look for ways to show up in people’s News Feeds and they are using a diverse range of mobile devices to do so with different technical capabilities for processing and displaying content. With all that going on, Facebook faces the challenge of controlling what stories users see each time they log in on Facebook and what content from Facebook Pages make it into people’s News Feed. Affinity, weight and time decay are still important but now, there are also categories and sub-categories of affinity.
Facebook is now measuring how close a user is to specific friends and Pages based on not only personal interactions but also global interactions. For example, if Facebook shows an update to 100 users and only a few interact with it, it may not show in your News Feed but if many people actively interact with it, chances are, the story will show in your News Feed.
1. Relationship Settings
Facebook now allows users to choose different relationship settings. For each Facebook friend that you have, you can label the person a “close friend” or an “acquaintance.” With liked Pages, users can choose to “Get notifications” or “Receive updates”. These factors are taken into consideration to determine what shows up in people’s News Feeds.
Large multi-location brands and small businesses alike are starting to understand the importance of localized social media marketing to drive business growth and profitability. Why is localized social media stalking and interactions suddenly a hot topic among savvy marketers? How is localized marketing an effective marketing maneuver for small businesses and national brands?
For small businesses with no international market or plans to expand in the near future, localized social media marketing makes sense. Take your average local auto shop or specialty-catering company for example, followers from another country offers the benefit of a bigger following and engagement but they are not likely to ever make a purchase.
For national brands alike, focusing on key geographic areas is an effective marketing maneuver to increase business growth and profitability. A local digital marketing strategy increases the reach and impact of the brand in their many locations and helps generate local leads.
How to Get Local on the Social Networks
1. Localize your Social Media Accounts
If your business is focused entirely on a given geographic area, build social pages that link back to a local website and fill out as much location information as possible. On Twitter, this means that you should have your city name mentioned in your user bio. On Facebook and Google+, you can also include a full address and alocal phone number.
For national brands targeting specific locations on social media, it’s a good approach to create secondary social media accounts dedicated to each area. This strategy is of course dependent on a number of variables including time constraints, resources, scalability challenges and brand messaging. If you have the resources to do so, build social pages for each of the brand’s locations on the top social media sites including Twitter and in particular Facebook on account of the recent changes made to the social site including Facebook Nearby and Graph Search.
2. Post Targeted Content
The top social networks including Facebook and Twitter have geo targeting tools that businesses can use to push localized content on the social networks. When used correctly, these tools can significantly increase brand engagement and exposure.
Let’s take an example of how geo targeting tools are useful. Large brands like Starbucks have millions of fans. With fans from all over the world who obviously speak different languages and relate to different things in life, a single global message will not be as impactful as many messages targeted to geographic and demographic audience segments. With Facebook Targeting for example, brands can customize messages to different audiences, increasing the likelihood of exposure and engagement. Facebook enables marketers to target posts by gender, relationship status, age, location and language among other things.
The Facebook Like button is perhaps the most widely used website widget across the web. It is used on millions of websites around the world and it’s become integrated into the way we browse the web and share interesting content we come across with our friends and contacts. Because of how actions figure in Facebook’s Open Graph, it’s become more important now to use the Facebook Like button across your website than it was before.
Facebook’s Like Button
Facebook’s Like button is the quickest way for people to share content with their social contacts. A single click of the button will ‘like’ pieces of content on the web and share them on Facebook.
How to get the code for your Like button
To get the code for your Like button, fill in the following:
- URL to Like
- Layout of the button
- Width and
- Action type
The Facebook Like button comes in 4 different layouts: standard, box count, button count and button. Facebook also allows two action type options for the Like button: Like or Recommend.
Next you need to check or uncheck the following two boxes:
- Show Friends’ Faces
- Include Share Button
With all the above information specified, click Get Code.
In addition to the settings above, you can also change other things about your Like button. We’ll discuss three.
- colorscheme: The color scheme used by the plugin can be light or dark. The default is light.
- href: This is the absolute URL of the page that will be liked.
- kid-directed-site: If your website is directed to children under 13, you must enable this. The default is false.
A Quick Q&A
Is it better to display the Like button on its own or use the Like and Share buttons together?
The difference between the two options will probably answer this question for you. The Facebook Like button lets people post links to Facebook with a single click. The Share button on the other hand allows users to add a personal message and customize what they are sharing before posting. In most cases, it’s better to include both buttons on your website and allow people to decide how they want to share your content.
Can you display the Share button without the Like button?
Of course you can. To do so, follow this link https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/share-button/ instead of the one above.
As of August 27 2013, Facebook has new terms applying to all Pages making it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and run promotions on the social site. Here is what you basically need to know:
– Promotions on Facebook can now be administered on Page Timelines. Previously, this was only possible through apps. This means that businesses can now:
- Collect entries by having fans and followers post on a Page or comment on a Page post
- Collect entries by having fans and followers message a Page
- Use Likes as a voting system
What remains unchanged is that like before, businesses cannot run promotions on personal Timelines.
– Accurate tagging is now a requirement in promotions. This maintains accuracy of Page content and prohibits Pages from encouraging Facebook users to tag themselves in content they are not actually depicted in.
For instance, if you own a bar and you have a new drink, it’s OK to ask people to submit names for your new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize but you cannot ask people to tag themselves in pictures of your new drink in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
More about Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines
Before we get into what’s changing and the best practices for businesses to create and administer promotions on Facebook, let’s think about what is considered a promotion on Facebook.
On Facebook, a promotion typically includes 3 components:
- Element of chance
- A giveaway
Facebook has now removed the requirement that promotions on the social site may only be administered within apps. Promotions are now also allowed on Page Timelines but not on personal Timelines. These new promotion guidelines make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and run promotions on Facebook.
To make the most of these new Page terms, here are a few things to consider:
Local business owners are constantly assessing whether or not social media is a rewarding promotional vehicle. In most cases, the dilemma stems from the fact that successful social media marketing costs but there is clear evidence that businesses have been propelled forward using social media because consumers gravitate to these channels of communication.
As a business owner, you want eyeballs on your products and services. According to this list of the most popular websites worldwide, clearly the social networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are where the large swaths of consumers are.
The Value of Social Media for Local Businesses
The social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest have huge volumes of visitors. Of course, just because a social network has millions of users does not mean that it’s an estimable tool for business promotions. There is a valid criticism that for some types of business promotions, the social networks and the activities taking place on them are not serviceable. With that said, there are a few other arguments against social media for local businesses.
1. No Real Sales
Businesses usually don’t see direct sales from social media marketing activities. People use the social sites to find products and services. There is no real purchase intent involved.
2. No Real Traffic
Work and content invested in social media is a lot like “sharecropping.“ There is not much traffic that gets referred from the social sites to websites.
However, what you need to realize is this:
– Business promotion is by nature ephemeral work. The benefit lasts for only a limited period of time whether it’s on the social networks or offline. For example, you could set up shop in a neighborhood someday and after a couple of months, the road infrastructure changes and traffic is directed away from your district.
– And secondly if you are not getting real sales and enough site traffic from the social networks, you are probably not doing your social promotion right.
The Benefits of Social Media for Local Businesses
In addition to the obvious benefits of social media including the traffic and sales prospects that the social networks lend to your site, there are other substantial arguments for social media marketing.
1. From an SEO Perspective
Activities on the social media networks generate social signals that can help sites rank better in the SERPs. Both Google and Bing acknowledge that social signals are now important ranking factors in their search algorithm mix.
2. Proactive ORM
Activity on some of the more popular social media networks provides your business with leverage and safeguards your reputation. For example, say a prospective customer Googles your business name, your social profiles and status updates are more likely to rank in Google’s search results over negative webpages from dissatisfied customers and competitors.
Foursquare at a glance
– Foursquare is a phone app. It is also a website
– It connects businesses to people
– People use Foursquare to find places based on what other people and experts recommend
– They also check in when they visit places and leave behind reviews to help other people
– With tools to help businesses get found online, as a business owner, you can use Foursquare to connect with your customers.
More about Foursquare, the phone app and website
If you are new to Foursquare, the phone app or even the website, there are basically three things that you want to be familiar with.
Currently, approximately 35 million people use Foursquare to find places to go. The way to do this is to use the search bar of the app. You can then access the business listings popular on Foursquare to find information about different places including what people love about these places, the opening hours and photos.
2. Social Map
The Social Map of Foursquare allows people to explore a geographical area. Using the map view you can visualize and click on places that your friends have been to or that industry experts recommend such as the best places to eat or shop nearby.
3. Happening Nearby
At any point in time, Foursquare allows its users to see what’s happening nearby. For example, using the phone app, you can see where your friends checked in recently or which business close to where you are has something special going on.
The best way to discover Foursquare is, of course, to download it and use it.
Foursquare for Business
The primary focus of any business is targeting people and finding customers. Foursquare delivers more of them to you. With Foursquare, you can:
– Manage your Business Listing
Foursquare boasts millions of business listings. These listings are all submitted by real people who visit places and leave behind tips about them. Chances are, your business is already on Foursquare. Just download the app and sign up to claim control of your business listing making sure that all information is both complete and accurate.
– Engage with your Customers
Foursquare is free marketing tool that you can use to engage with your customers. Use it to share news about your business, promote events and offer discounts with Foursquare Local Updates.
– Monitor How your Business is Doing
Foursquare has a free analytics tool, which you can use to monitor the customers checking in to your business. You can find out who they are, when they visited and also what they are saying about you across the different social networks.
YouTube videos get more than 1 billion views per day. Undeniably, more and more people are turning to YouTube everyday; whether it’s for entertainment, news or even makeup tips. Smart Internet marketers identified this opportunity some time back and now even Fortune 500 companies, who earlier would have stuck to conventional modes of advertising, have started taking YouTube ads seriously.
People aren’t going to stop watching YouTube videos anytime soon and any marketer that ignores this medium of advertising is doing himself and his clients a huge disfavor in the long run. Starting to panic that you’re still not in that game? Worry not, we’ll smooth out your initiation and discuss virtually everything you need to know about starting a YouTube advertising campaign.
To start with there are 2 kind of ad campaigns that you can run on YouTube. Regular ads and Video ads.
Regular ads are simply banner and rich media ads, something like AdWords. These are the ads that you see towards the right of a video or in the form of an overlay banner on top of the video. This form of advertising is very prevalent but not so effective. No one likes banners on top of their video and YouTube gives the viewer an option to close the overlay ad whenever they want. As for the sidebar ad, unless your rich-media content is really interesting, the ad is very likely to go un-noticed. Let’s not forget that the viewer’s prime intention is to watch their video and they are less likely to focus on any other elements of the page.
The second kind of ads and by far the more popular ones are the video ads. As a YouTube advertiser you have the option of four kinds of video ads.
– TrueView In-stream
These are very much like TV ads that play before a show starts. YouTube shows the visitor 5 seconds of your ad after which they have an option to skip it. You only pay for it if the viewer watches your whole ad or at least 30 seconds of it, whichever is less. If they skip the video after 5 seconds then you don’t pay a dime.
– TrueView In-Slate
In Slate ads appear only on videos that are 10 minutes or longer. YouTube gives the visitors 2 options- Either watch one of three ads in the beginning or go through regular commercial breaks during their video. You only pay for this when the viewer chooses to watch your video ad.
– TrueView In-Search
They are exactly like AdWords ads that we see on Google search result pages and appear above or towards the right of YouTube search results. Much like AdWords, you only pay for this if the viewer clicks on your ad.
Search engine optimization and social media marketing have become extremely important for most businesses to become a successful online brand. A question often asked by marketers in social media conferences and events is about the ROI on social media investments. While measuring the social media ROI is not an easy task (its another topic altogether), these tips will certainly help you improve your social media marketing ROI.
1. The Humanization of Brands
Consumers today are very active on the social sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. This perhaps explains the reason why brands today want to engage with their prospects through social media.
In 2012, the most important thing that digital marketers learnt about social media marketing is this: For success on the social media sites, you need to humanize your brand. You need to find a way to connect to people. On the social sites today, people choose what they like and who they want to interact with. The interaction is more often than not personal.
So basically, if you use social media to drive traffic to your website and increase your conversion rate, you need to get up close and personal with your fans and followers to make them feel like they belong. You need to be more than a brand. You need to be a name, a face and an authority figure. Share relevant links, photos and videos. Let people in on some behind-the-scene action. Build an online business community around your brand.
In addition to having a great persona on the social sites, you also need to engage with your fans and followers. Without engagement, there is only so far you will get in terms of social media success. Without a good and workable engagement strategy, you will nullify the effect of your social media campaign.
So engagement is important but what does it imply exactly? What does engagement on the social media sites include? Does posting an update everyday count as engagement? Do redirecting people to useful resources count as engagement?
On the social media sites, engagement does not have a clear-cut definition but it includes the following:
– Reaching out to people by showing an interest in what they have to share
– Providing real value in the community by participating in discussions
– Being generous in sharing resources
– Always having the right answers ready for your fans and followers should they have any query
– Asking for feedback
– Dealing with positive but also negative feedback with good social skills
On the social media sites, people put a premium on things like transparency and honesty. In the past, brands have made the mistake of providing fake profile information and misrepresenting themselves to be something they are not. Even today, the social sites are littered with fake profiles and inaccurate information.
If you want to connect with people, be a brand that people can trust to be honest. Be transparent.
Social media today allows for consistent networking and business branding. This helps you stay in the visual and mental periphery of the members of the social networks and, if you are successful, establish your reputation as an authority in your field. Business branding on the social sites starts with interaction with others, offline and in the digital space.
8 Practices for Successful Business Branding on Social Media
1. Keep it Social
Unfortunately, some people forget the “social” in social media marketing. The social networks are all built on a first principle: getting social with others. If you are on the social sites increasing your business reach and impact, you will actually need to get social with the members of the network including industry influencers, customers and anyone who reaches out to you. As a matter of fact, excluding certain people like trolls and spammers, social media branding is all about building relationships with different kinds of people.
2. Choose a Voice and Set the Tone for your Brand
Depending on the kind of impact you want to have on your followers and customers, your voice on the social networks can be corporate or more easy-going and casual. Either way, it does not matter as long as you stay true to your image. Remember that what you share says a lot about you.
For social media success, your social media voice and tone should match the demographic you are targeting. If your voice is not sitting well with your target audience, it’s time to make a change.
3. Keep Things Short and Sweet
Twitter allows for 140-character tweets. There is no such restriction on the other social sites including Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. You will find that on the social sites, sometimes shorter is better. Keep your messages resourceful and your language simple and concise.
4. Brand Awareness is Important
Social media allows businesses to grow their public profile. On Twitter, LinkedIn and many of the social networks, you have the possibility to reach out to industry influencers, create grassroots campaigns and participate in active conversations. By creating and sharing valuable content, you can come in the rear view mirror of your industry influencers and then it’s only a matter of time before a flood of new followers is directed your way.