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.
With 400 million Tweets a day and 200 million active users, people turn to Twitter to talk about the things they care about, whether it’s the news that affects their lives or the businesses down the road, including your business. This gives you a powerful context to connect your business message to what’s most meaningful to your customers in real time.
Using Twitter, you can:
1. Listen and Learn
Twitter is the perfect platform for you to see what your competitors are tweeting about and gather market intelligence. It’s an easy way to get insights that you can then use to form your own twitter marketing strategy.
2. Grow and Succeed
Whether you want to grow your business, strengthen and promote your brand or run exciting promotions, Twitter can amplify your efforts in these areas and more.
3. Learn from Others
Study how these businesses use Twitter to drive transactions and connect with customers.
Your Twitter Profile
Your Twitter profile is the entry point for your audience. As such, every element of your profile including your @username, photo and bio should reflect your brand personality.
1. Put your Best Face Forward
Your Twitter profile and background images represent your brand. It’s therefore time to put your best face forward. Use a profile image that reflects your company. Logos work. Feel free to get particularly creative with a background or header image to give your page a finished look.
2. Choose your @Username.
Your @username is your Twitter URL. It should be straightforward and reinforce your brand identity. Once you decide on a @username, put it on your marketing materials, both online and offline so your customers know where to find you.
3. Introduce Yourself
Write a clear and concise bio that describes your business. No need to write a novel. To help drive traffic, you can also include, in the bio, a trackable link to your main website or to a specific landing page.
4. Making the Different Elements Work Together
At the end of the day, when designing your Twitter profile, you need to make the individual elements described above work together to best reflect your business: Your name, bio, website and profile picture. You should also keep in mind that people may access your page across screens, from smartphones to tablets to laptops.
8 Reasons Why You May Be Unpopular on Twitter
1. Your Twitter Profile Has No Face
Often businesses have a Twitter profile but with no face. This will NOT help your popularity on a social media site like Twitter. Avoid uploading images of celebrities. Use an original profile image. You’re no Lady Gaga! She can get away with using the image of an egg as her profile picture. You probably can’t.
A hashtag is a keyword phrase used in Twitter conversations that is preceded by a pound (#) symbol and written without any spaces in between, for example, #ilovefood. The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a Tweet and can be placed anywhere within a post. In social media, posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the often frenzied and messy world of Twitter and now Facebook.
The use of hashtags is not just for Twitter, although this is the most popular. Hashtags are also used for other micro-blogging sites including Google+, identi.ca and Instagram. Through the use of hashtags, different social media users from different countries can tie their conversations together; click any particular hashtag in a message and you will see the list of posts using the same hashtag.
In social media today, hashtags also allow an audience to interact live during events such as conferences, TV shows and political events. At any point in time, a comprehensive list of popular hashtags can be found at Hashtags.org. HootSuite is a third-party downloadable app, which also monitors hashtag activity.
Next, let’s talk about how to create a hashtag. First off, what you need to know is that it doesn’t take a genius to apply a hashtag to a message. All you need to do is type your text and then insert the pound (#) symbol at any part of the message and then send. Of course, the hashtag is not just any word. It has to be a carefully thought target keyword that is relatable so that other Twitter users will be inspired to use it as well.
Popular Hashtags of 2013
TV/Entertainment: #dwts, #glee, #idol, #xfactor
General: #news, #love, #photography, #fashion
Business: #jobs, #business, #marketing, #socialmedia, #startup
Tech: #android,#iphone, #iphonegames, #ipadgames, #app
Education: #edtech, #lrnchat, #teachers
Environment: #climate, #solar, #globalwarming, #drought
Social Change: #socialgood, #cause, #4change
Astrology: #gemini, #capricorn, #scorpio, #cancer, #pisces, #leo, #sagittarius,
Hashtag Fails of 2013
While hashtags are indeed a trend that is here to stay, some people and companies have totally failed when trying to make something big. Instead, it backfired…
R. Kelly created the hashtag in an attempt to promote his album titled “Black Panties”. However, users soon attacked the hashtag and talked about his dressing habits and sexual activities with minors.
After mistakenly naming a female celebrity after a male one (They called Alfre Woodard…Idris Elba… LOL!), a lot of fun was poked at the company. People started using the hashtag and uploaded pictures of black celebrities while captioning them with the names of other celebrities. Okay, I’m guilty of laughing at that one – you’ve got to admit; that’s pretty smart on the trolls’ part!
Twitter is the micro-blogging Godzilla. With 500 million Tweets a day and 230 million active users on the social site, everyday, people all over the world turn to Twitter to bring them closer to the things they care about, whether we are talking about world news or businesses down the block.
With numbers like these, Twitter can help your business in many ways.
1. Connecting your Business to What People are Talking About
One of the things unique to Twitter is that people take to this micro-blogging site to talk about things they care about and that could include your business. This gives you a powerful window to connect your business messages to what people are talking about at any point in time. Real-time engagement with Twitter users can help build your business.
2. Listening and Learning
Twitter is a very useful platform to gather valuable industry data, insights and intelligence. In real time, you can see what your competitors are tweeting about and you can get insights into how businesses are using Twitter to drive traffic, increase engagement and grow.
3. Growing your Business
Twitter is also a very good place to promote your business and increase its reach and impact. For example, if you want to grow your business, you can use Twitter as a platform to run promotions and to engage with your customers. To amplify your results, you can also turn to Twitter Ads.
About Twitter Ads – Advertising Tools to Get your Business in Front of More People
Twitter has three ad products.
- Promoted Accounts
- Promoted Tweets
- And Promoted Trends
Through these advertising tools, Twitter allows you to target the right people; In essence, your ads show for Twitter users who are most likely to be interested in your content, products and/or services.
The quickest way to build an active community on Twitter is to promote your account, the rationale being that the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are to spread your message and engage with your content.
Promoted Accounts can help you:
1. Reach more followers (who are interested in what you have to say)
2. Build a community of Twitter users who will vouch for you
With Promoted Accounts, instantly, your business gets exposed to the right people…and plenty of them. And using Twitter’s targeting option, you can get your Twitter account in front of more people who are like your current followers in terms of say geography or specific interests.
With Promoted Accounts, you can also track your results in real time. For more information about analytics, click here.
We are all familiar with what Facebook is all about. It is a space where people from all over the world come together every day to share their thoughts and participate in real-time conversations from the Premier League standings to Facebook acquiring messaging service, WhatsApp in a $19bn deal.
On January 16, 2014, Facebook announced a new trends section, which will directly compete with Twitter’s popular trends. This new feature is designed to surface the most popular topics of discussion on Facebook, in effect helping users find the best content from across the social site. Till last month, Trending was still being rolled out and is not yet available to everyone.
To the right of your News Feed on Facebook, you can now find a list of topics. It’s only available on desktop at the moment. This list shows you the most popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook but that’s not all. Unlike how Trends work on Twitter, this list is personalized based on things you’ve expressed an interest in. Each topic is accompanied by a headline. The headline briefly explains what is trending. For example,
Clicking on any headline will redirect you to stories from people and Pages who have shared them with you or have shared them as Public and you will be able to see what people are saying about a particular topic in one place.
It’s pretty obvious that Facebook is on a mission to become the go-to destination for finding out what’s hot on the Web. Previously, real-time social networks like Twitter was the site of choice for social network users to read on which topics are hot on social media. With Trending, Facebook has now joined the game. If it proves to be successful, Trending will most likely make the jump to mobile at some point in the near future.
Facebook Takes on Twitter Once Again
Yeah, that’s right. This is not the first time that Facebook has found inspiration in Twitter. Previously, Facebook introduced hashtags allowing its users to tag topics, a feature that Twitter pretty much pioneered.
With Trending, Facebook is taking one of several initiatives to become the home of news on the web. If sources are to be believed, Mark Zuckerberg’s next big product will be to launch a newspaper app that brings together content from various publications. Combine this with the real-time news factor that Trending has now brought to Facebook and the social site is well on its way to become the network of choice for people to learn about the hottest topics of the moment.
And with all the talk about Facebook losing popularity among the younger crowd, this new market could well be the sustaining force to make sure that the social network keeps its current users and add new ones. As mentioned before, Trending is currently being rolled out in several countries and as with the other Facebook features we’ve seen over time, continuous improvements will make perfect.
With 2013 coming to an end, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have published details of how the world snapped, tagged and posted their way through the year. From the new Pope to pop stars like Justin Bieber, 2013 has seen some familiar faces and surprisingly popular places.
Online Highlights of 2013
Let’s talk Instagram. With more than 150 million users worldwide and around 55 million photos posted everyday, Instagram is the perfect way to look back at the year that has almost gone. Earlier this month, the photo-sharing social network revealed its most popular picture and the most Instagrammed locations, cities and hashtags of 2013.
This year, the most ‘liked’ photo on Instagram was Justin Bieber’s picture with Will Smith, collecting more than a whopping 1.5 million likes.
The top location of the year on Instagram was the Siam Paragon shopping mall and leisure complex in Bangkok, Thailand with Times Square in New York and Disneyland in California in the second and third places respectively. No European landmarks made the list, which also includes New York’s Central Park and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. London was the fourth most geo-tagged city behind New York, Bangkok and Los Angeles.
The year’s top hashtags on Instagram include #friends, #food, #fashion and #selfie with the most popular being #love.
Moving on to Facebook, this year, the most talked about topic on the social network was Pope Francis with Miley Cyrus, Nelson Mandela and the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also in the top 10. News events that dominated the most talked about topics on Facebook also includes the birth of Prince George.
In Twitter verse, Leah Michele’s post after the death of Glee co-star Cory Monteith and the tweet confirming the death of Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker were the most re-tweeted posts of the year.
What’s Google Saying?
In 2013, people searched for:
1. New Beginnings
– On July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy, delivered at 16:24 BST at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.
– As of August 19, fifteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, France, Iceland, Netherlands , Brazil, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry.
– This year, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the planet.
– Cory Monteith, 31, actor on the television show “Glee” died on July 13 after struggling with substance abuse for years.
– Nelson Mandela, 95, colossus of the 20th century who emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to the white minority rule in South Africa died on December 5.
– Paul Walker, 40, star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series died on November 30 in a car crash.
3. Consumer Electronics
This year, the most searched-for consumer electronics were:
– The iPhone 5s. Although overall opinion to the debut of Apple’s new smartphone seemed to be positive, there were some moments caught on social media that drew wows while others were just ho-hum.
– Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung’s biggest release this year was the Samsung Galaxy S4.
– PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. According to the annual Google Year-End Zeitgeist, PlayStation 4 beat the Xbox One on the consumer electronics searches chart.
4. Other Global Top Trending Searches
1. Harlem Shake. The Harlem Shake is an Internet meme in the form of a video, which became viral early February 2013. The video currently has 68,406,520 views on YouTube.
2. Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is an annual marathon hosted by several cities in eastern Massachusetts. This year, during the 2013 Boston Marathon, at 2:50 p.m. EDT, two explosions occurred about 180 m apart on Boylston Street, in the last 205 m of the course. Three spectators were killed and more than 200 people were injured.
3. Malala Yousafzai. In a world where girls are gazed at more than heard, this newsmaker is no less than a revolutionary. Being featured on Time’s magazine cover as the 100 Most Influential People in the world, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recipient of the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize as well as many other awards and laurels, this girl surely knows how to get her message across. A pen is surely mightier than the sword as they say.
4. Miley Cyrus. The 20-year-old singer took raunchy performances to a whole new level at the MTV Video Music Awards this year with an explicit display of tongue wagging and twerking.
5. Oscar Pistorius, Aaron Hernandez. The two most Googled athletes of 2013 include Oscar Pistorius and Aaron Hernandez. Oscar Pistoriusis a South African runner who used prosthetic legs after having both limbs amputated at the age of 11. He won numerous gold medals at the Paralympic Games and participated at the 2012 Olympic Games. Pistorius was a source of inspiration for the disabled until the sad news broke that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Aaron Hernandez has a similar story. A star on the rise, in the summer of 2013, he was convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. He faces a life sentence in prison without parole.
6. Typhoon Haiyan. Typhoon Haiyan was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in early November 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and at least 6,109 people died in that country alone.
A look at Google Zeitgeist
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.
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.
The Evolution of Publicity
If someone attempted to define publicity, it would go something like this: Publicity is the deliberate attempt to drive the public perception of a subject in a specific direction, attracting media attention and increasing the reach and impact of a business.
Before Social Media, Publicity took Several Forms:
– Event sponsorship
– Press conferences
– Polls and surveys
– Invent an award and subsequently give it away
– Ribbon cutting
Admittedly, these remain very successful forms of publicity generation but from a digital marketing perspective, today marketers have many more interactive publicity opportunities that arise in the social media news streams. These include the social media PR venues like Twitter Chats and Google+ Hangouts.
Twitter chats are real-time, interactive conversations happening on Twitter at any point in time. They revolve around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows people to follow the discussion and participate in it. Like any traditional talk show or morning show, the conversation has a host, a guest and an audience of attendees.
The Publicity Benefits of Twitter Chats are Multiple.
– Large-scale exposure of your brand to a focused audience
– You build meaningful rapports with influencers of your industry
– Media attention
– Real-time feedback from the media and influencers
– You might just be extended an invite to speak or write for a media outlet
The key to gaining influence via Twitter chats is to find the right chats. To that end, look for Twitter chats in the right places.
– Pay attention to chats mentioned by people you follow
– Important chats are often quoted in media publications
– Follow chats curated by others
– You can organize a Twitter chat yourself using Twubs and TweetChat
Hosting a Twitter chat is a networking and promotional tool of considerable power. You promote your social media presence, you get instant feedback and you create a community around your business.
To Host a Twitter Chat:
1. Understand how it works: Participate in a few Twitter chats before.
2. You need a plan: The hashtag is what pulls the whole thing together. Also arrange the day and time.
3. Announce and promote your chat: Use all available media. People will promote an event if you give them rich media.
4. Run the chat: Start with a welcome introduction, announce your chat topic, tweet your own thoughts and ideas, ask questions and so on and so forth.
5. Summarize, archive and analyze: Create transcripts of your tweets. Archive your chat.