Businesses using social networks should have a clear strategy and goals behind the effort and money they put into their profiles and message. It requires a process of planning, implementation, monitoring, analysis, and making adjustments before you repeat the cycle again.Social networks are ideal for growing your network and for spreading the word about who you are and what you do. You can convince others of your skills by sharing value, and they'll be happy to connect and spread the word as well. The more authority businesses have online, the stronger their influence on their followers, and the better chance they have at making things happen.
Twitter is one of the biggest networks in the world. It provides a constant stream of short form content updates. 140 character messages, called Tweets, make it easy for users to communicate quickly and easily in real time with large groups. Like other networks, it allows for users to communicate with each other while also tagging content for better findability. Twitter is especially good for sharing links back to your website when you have deals on your products, newly published content, and other important news to share.
Facebook is a large social network where people create profiles, exchange messages, and report status updates. It provides a lot of social interaction options, including pages you can devote to your products or company. It’s great for brand exposure and customer relations. It currently has the largest audience of any of the social media sites I’ll mention today. Before I explain the different between a Friend and a Fan, I want you to understand the difference between a personal profile and a fan page. Facebook’s primary purpose is as a personal networking site. They want real people to connect and share information with other real people. That is why you start by setting up a personal profile.The Facebook terms of service clearly states in several places that you cannot have more than one account. For example, I cannot set up an account as myself, Lisa Thiessen, and then set up another account as my business, Marketing Consultant. If I do this and Facebook finds out, they will shut down both accounts. So, how do I create both a personal and professional presence on Facebook?This is where Fan pages come in. I start by creating a personal account as Lisa Thiessen. From that account, I set up an Marketing Consultant Fan page. My personal account is the parent account and my Fan page is a sub-account. While you can only have one personal profile, you can have as many Fan pages as you want.
Facebook Profile vs. Facebook Fan PageNow let’s get into the distinction between a Friend and a Fan. The people you connect with via your personal account are called Friends and the people you connect with via your Fan page are Fans. In general, you have a two way conversation with Friends and a one way conversation with Fans. Here are some important distinctions between Friends and Fans:So why take the extra effort to set up and learn how to use a Fan page? Let me elaborate on the problem with some of the distinctions in the chart:Privacy – I don’t Friend people I don’t know now in real life largely for privacy concerns. If you don’t know people, you don’t know what they’re doing with your personal profile information.Number of Connections – If you’re using Facebook to build a platform, you want to have tens or hundreds or thousands of people reading your updates. But if you only have a personal account, you’re limited to 5,000 connections.Fun and Enjoyment – Friending strangers takes all the fun out of Facebook. If you’ve got hundreds or thousands of “friends” you don’t actually know, your feed is cluttered with updates from people you don’t care about. Also, you can’t be yourself. You’ve got worry about offending somebody or sounding unprofessional. Boring!
Google Plus is very similar to Facebook. Both platforms are appealing with large user bases and social features. One great advantage Facebook has, however, is that many website developers allow users on their sites to log in with their Facebook credentials. This provides immediate insight into who these users are because you can gain access to their info and demographics. One great advantage of Google Plus, though, is that it can be integrated with other Google applications.
YouTube is a video sharing sites that provides great options for video and podcast producers. However, companies that only publish video content occasionally should still consider getting involved there. YourTube is the #2 search engine in the world and people search YouTube to learn about products and services more than any other social network. Plus, Google owns it, so YouTube videos are also shown in Google results. A few stats on YouTube:800 million monthly unique visitors72 hours of video are uploaded every minute 4 billion hours of video are viewed every month
LinkedIn is a site for professionals to share their career information and news. It's often used for networking and job searching as well as sharing discussions on industry topics. If your business relies on networking and constantly finding new clients to work with, this is a network you should be on.
Foursquare allows users to check in at places all around the world including stores, restaurants, historical locations, and just about anywhere else. Users can earn badges to reflect achievements, become the mayor of a location by checking in the most times, and businesses can offer deals to those who check in.
Pinterest is a content-sharing network with a stylish visual interface that allows users to group their pins by topic. The key is that each pin links back to the source website and many online business have recorded a huge increase in hits to their site after posting on this network. Initially, Pinterest queued heavily toward female users in topics like fashion, home improvement, and crafts. Though as the platform gains more users, you can expect many more types of use to emerge.
Let's consider an example of a t-shirt store. If we were opening a store to the public for the first time, we'd certainly want to get the word out across social media. We'd publish information on our website or blog first, then we'd link to this content on social networks to bring interested people back to the site. We could start a fan page on Facebook, encourage people on Twitter to sign up for notifications, or even share pictures of the shirts on Pinterest.
Keep in mind that publishing the exact same content on every network won't have as strong an effect as tailoring your message for each one. Publishing duplicate content will signal users that they don't need to follow you across multiple networks, so don't make that mistake--mix it up.If you've already written a bunch of content, take some behind the scenes pictures or videos of your product, your team, location, whatever else might be interesting, and post it on a network like Facebook or YouTube.
Be imaginative and put yourself in the shoes of your fans and customers. What would they like to see here and read about when it comes to your company and products? Don't feel like you have to jump into every platform all at once. Trying to figure out where all these pieces fit in to your strategy can be overwhelming, so map it out. Consider a phased approach where you start by establishing your presence on one or two platforms, build up your following, then promote new initiatives on other networks.Keep in mind at all times what you hope to accomplish from these efforts whether it's sales, exposure, followers, or some other metric. Your goals should be reflected in your strategy and as you roll out content or a campaign, you must monitor the results to figure out what works best and what doesn't.Keep in mind that certain goals like sales or newsletter signups may not be possible on Facebook or Twitter pages, so always drive them back to your website site and make the reward worth their while.
Responding to post on Facebook or replies on your blog for example are great ways to share your information that relates directly to user needs. Just be sure there's one very simple and important aspect of your online persona--that you are listening.To make social media truly “social,” conversations must take place. Today's marketing strategies are dependent upon 2-way communication between a company and its users. If users believe a company is not listening, they may assume they don't care, and the level of trust and faith that users have in them, its products, as well as its future may suffer.A common mistake companies make is the push-only approach, using social platform simply as another publishing channel. Tweet after tweet or post after post of the same type of content, sometimes duplicate content, will make it look like you're not paying attention. Avoid this approach at all cost.
Communities truly grow when you take the time to listen and respond and foster an environment where users can speak amongst themselves. And many social networks already provide this kind of open communication. It's important to allow different sides of an issue related to your company to be heard and explored. Remember, innovation is hardly ever generated by keeping the status quo. Customers and clients who are truly passionate about what you do or provide will share their thoughts and sometimes they may be critical of what you do, but while these conversations may result in some awkward, perhaps contentious, exchanges in the short term, they can lead to a long term positive and welcome innovation for all.Authenticity and transparency are key. Clear messaging from people within the company will help communication and build trust. You don't have to reveal all your secrets, you just have to be yourself and listen well, be professional and open minded, and in return, your community of users will become more connected and be willing to support you as you grow.
The first thing you might think of when you hear the term PR is writing press releases, but don't assume because your company is small or is just starting out that you don't need to create any. Large or small, companies can benefit greatly from sharing official corporate information via press releases. Whether you have a new product announcement, business partnership, or other significant achievement, publishing this content through official channels means it can be shared by media sources across the web, thereby, improving your SEO and overall findability. Reaching out to members of the media in your industry can lead to opportunities to share your work with them, or to perhaps be featured or reviewed in their publications. There are a number of online services that provide details on editorial calendars. They can tell you when certain media will be writing stories about specific subjects. If you see one that matches what your company does, this can be an opportunity to connect and get some exposure. While you're at it, consider the value of reaching out to blogs and other industry sites that featured guest posts from industry professionals. If there's a site that features products and services similar to your own, offer to write a guest blog post giving your take on an issue or sharing your expertise. One great benefit of reaching out like this is connecting with their audience. They would certainly be relevant to your desired target market, so these opportunities can lead to many new leads.
Managing public relations is also about maintaining your reputation. It's vital to monitor online content to know what people are saying about you especially if anything negative comes up. Be sure to thank supportive users, but you must also address concerns quickly and honestly, providing as much information as possible while maintaining an official tone. One way to monitor content about you and your company is to set up a system of alert. For example, you can set up a Google alert to email you whenever your company name is mentioned online. You can also use various apps to monitor social platforms and set up automatic searches to identify any content that includes references to you and your products. The idea is not to stamp out anything negative about you-- it's to respond swiftly and honestly, and showing again that you're listening to the people. Your public relations efforts can help you spread the word about your business and improve your reputation with influential members of the online community, so create content with these efforts in mind and be proactive about promoting and protecting your brand.
While it's easy to get started on social media platforms, it may take months to develop a significant following. We can't all have millions of followers right away, so try not to get frustrated. Stay active, keep creating content, make connections, and reach out to influencers you've identified, and as time goes on, the level of engagement should increase. Measuring the interactions you have across each network by using their built-in notifications and tools is a good way to start tracking your numbers. Blog comments, replies and re-tweets on Twitter, likes and shares on Facebook, and other interactions on other platforms show what content is resonating with your audience. To learn more, compare the engagement for each update, looking at the numbers and trying to discover a pattern. For example, updates about a certain subject or product may generate the most comments. Photo or video updates might get the most shares, and tweets on certain days or certain times of day may somehow get replied to most often.
Paying attention to these stats can help you adjust your publishing schedule and influence how you create your content. As you move forward, you may find the amount of data overwhelming or the free tools on each network insufficient for your needs. If you've already installed the tool like Google analytics on your site, this can provide some insight into the effectiveness of certain social media efforts. Tracking which networks are generating the most traffic back to your site, sending those users to trackable landing pages, or including codes inside those links can make it easier to see how effective each strategy is. There are additional tools--some free, some paid--that provide more detailed stats and insight such as HootSuite. No matter what tools you use, getting a handle on these numbers can help you adjust your marketing and can also help you make money because knowing how many users interact with your content can allow you to set prices for prospective advertisers on your site, blog, and other channels. Regardless of which social network you operate on, you'll need to monitor the health of each one and gauge the value your new users get from them. You must stay invested in your presence on each network, continually providing quality content to keep your followers interested, and listening to their responses and concerns so they remain invested in what you're doing.
The Power of Social media
The Power of Social MediaPresented by:Lisa ThiessenSWOSU Small BusinessDevelopment Center
The Power of Social Media• Clear Strategy & Goals– Requires a process ofplanning, implementation, monitoring, analysis, andmaking adjustments before you repeat the cycleagain.• Ideal for growing your network and for spreadingthe word.– Convince others of your skills by sharing value, andtheyll be happy to connect and spread the word aswell.– The more authority businesses have online, thestronger their influence on their followers.
Today’s Social NetworksEach social network offers its ownbenefits.Whats happening on some of todaysmost popular platforms and what canyou accomplish on each one?
Facebook Page vs. ProfileFriend FanMethod ofConnectionOne person sends an invitation toconnect and the other accepts it.A person clicks on the Like buttonof a Fan page.What They SeeYou can see their updates and theysee your updates.They see your updates but youdont see their updates.Number YouCan HaveYou can have 5,000 Friends.You can have an unlimited numberof Fans.Access toYour ProfileThey can see all your personaldetails. (You can limit this byadjusting your privacy settings.)They cannot see your personalinformation.
Today’s Social NetworksWhile these are the highest profile networks rightnow, they should not be the extent of your socialoutreach.There are plenty of niche platforms, blogs, andforums that cater to users interested in specificsubjects, from a certain location, or both.Seek out these networks to extend your reachand you may be able to create even stronger tieswith followers already familiar with your area ofexpertise.
Things to Consider• Have you joined any of the social networks mentioned?• Upon visiting these networks, have you noticed thesimilarities and differences between each one?• Have you accessed and posted to these networks froma mobile device?• Have you joined other networks that are more relevantto your products, services, user base, or geographiclocation?
Social StrategyNow that you know some of the bigsocial networks out there, how doyou get started?
Social StrategyAn important part of an effectiveonline presence isconsistency, especially in branding.
Social Strategy• Example: t-shirt store.• Opening for the first time, want to getthe word out across social media.– publish information on our website or blog– link to this content on social networks: fanpage on Facebook, notifications onTwitter, pictures on Pinterest.
Social Strategy• Know what each platform is for; Don’tpublish duplicate content• Post content that is relevant to the sitewhere it is posted– Videos on YouTube– Deals & Special Offers on Twitter– Photos on Pinterest
Social Strategy• Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.• Consider a phased approach.• What do you hope to accomplish?• Always direct customers back to yourwebsite!
Things to Consider• What specific business-related goals are you trying toaccomplish through your social media efforts? How areyou trying to reach these goals?• If your company is present on more than one socialnetwork, do you have the same name and branding oneach one?• Do you post the exact same content across multiplenetworks? If so, is there a way you can alter your contentto better fit each one?• Do you have a content calendar for posting to eachsocial network? If not, how do you decide when andwhat to post?• How do you know if people came to your site throughsocial networks? Do you have stats that show this data?
Conversations & CommunitiesAs you begin to gain followers onyour site and social networks, youmay find new ways to effectivelycommunicate.
Conversations & Communities• Always respond—it lets people knowyou are listening.• 2 way conversations are important.• Avoid push-only approach.
Conversations & Communities• Listening and responding fosters an environmentwhere users can speak amongst themselves andallows different sides of an issue related to yourcompany to be heard and explored.• Innovation isn’t is generated by keeping thestatus quo• Authenticity and transparency are key to buildingtrust.• Be yourself!
Things to Consider• After you publish posts to social networks, do youreview the responses they receive?• Do you provide a variety of posts to eachnetwork, such as news, video, pictures, and linksto interesting content?• How many different people post on behalf of yourcompany?• Do you have a forum or central location whereyour customers/users discuss topics related toyour company? Is it a space you provide, or is itlocated on a social network (e.g. Facebookgroup)?
Public RelationsPublic relations has been around for along time. Its value is just as strong today!
Public Relations• Large & small companies can benefit.• Sharing across the web improves yourSEO.• Editorial calendars• Guest blog posts
Public Relations• Maintain your reputation; thanksupportive users, address concernsquickly• Google alerts• Use various apps to respond swiftly andshow you are listening.
Social AnalyticsMeasuring the interactions you haveacross each network by using theirbuilt-in notifications and tools is agood way track your social mediasuccess.
Social Analytics• Stay active, create content, makeconnections.• Measure interactions.• Compare different types of updates.• When are the best and worst times topost social media updates?
Social Analytics• Pay attention to stats to adjustpublishing schedule.• Track where your users come from andwhere they go.• Knowing how many users interact withyour content can allow you to setprices for prospective advertisers.
Conclusion• Identify a clear strategy & set goals.• Communicate effectively.• Maintain your online reputation via publicrelations.• Measure your interactions to track yoursuccess.
Lisa ThiessenSWOSU Center for Economic & Business Development100 Campus DriveWeatherford, OK email@example.com