The Social Media Low-Down


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The Social Media Low-Down

  1. 1. The Social Media LOW-DOWN By Kathryn McMann THE INS AND OUTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA, WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR BRAND, AND WHY YOUR BRAND NEEDS TO HARNESS ITS POWER © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013
  2. 2. The Social MediaLOW-DOWN What is Social Media?How does it work? Why has it had such an impact on the way consumers consume?Why is it important for your brand?How does SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)contribute to Social Media to support your online brand presence? And how can we harness its power using the tools available? Social Media Marketing: How did we get here? Social media marketing is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to promote your brand, to build, engage and connect with communities of interest across multiple communication mediums. We are fast transitioning away from slower analogue formats, print alone,and surface brand values. With this transition digital platforms will continue to grow and are fast becomingintrinsic actions in our lives. Digital integration has impacted how we communicate,use, group, find, researchand consume. “We exist at the intersection of technology and social issues,” Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in 2011, an insight Steve Jobs oncehad about Apple. Mark Zuckerberg is highlighting the natural transition from technologyonce being used by affluent or stereotypical-gaming users, to being used for regular daily tasks by everyone and anyone with a phone or access to a computer, without even being aware of the process between technology and need. The Brand and Consumer Relationship It’s time to think of the brand and consumer relationship holistically. The consumer has one relationship with the brand. One emotional impression of a brand. Just one. They don’t see the difference between budgets and action, online and offline, between connecting with your brand across Twitter or Facebook, on their mobile, or through advertising or idents onTV. The brand, however, has multiple relationshipchannels, customer touch-pointswith potential and loyal/repeat consumers: through their website, by phone, on mobiles,through interactions with their company Twitter feeds; throughcomments made on Facebook pages, through testimonials or comments made by friends/colleagues on affiliate networks, and of course, by window-shopping in the virtual space with the intention to purchase in the physical space, (if they make it that far of course.) It all adds up to create a universal emotive brand image to the customer. How is your brand represented across the spectrum of customer touchpoints? Social media offers a spectrum of locations to communicate, connect and recommend. Ideas and comments go viral, but social media, like PR, takes time to build momentum © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 1
  3. 3. . throughrelationships, repetition and trust Once it has gathered momentum, the community will be faithful and become the strongest allies and advocates of the brand.This can work in any context, be it B2B as well as B2C (business to business, or business to customer), since Social Media offers companies simpler ways to either build new business partnerships or communicate with customers. Providing a clear communication between the brand representative and the customer brings the customer closer to the product/service for their specific ‘need’. Targeting Audiences Multiple marketing mediums are crucial to help you reach different audiences.With many competitors vying for consumers’ attention, it is critical to know what social media platforms your targeted audience uses. Some people prefer regular sound-bites on Twitter; others prefer blogs for greater detail about specific topics. Some people keep in touch with friends and family sporadically on Facebook, others are on Facebook every hour, every day people watching and so on. Knowing who your audience are helps to clarify where and when they are likely to be online. Mapping your target audiences online activity and sentiment (emotive metrics) helps to target their habits, locations, their influence and nature. You will often need to map out multiple paths as your audience aren’t huddled together on the same platforms. For instance, one third of all posts to Facebook come from mobile devices. This is extremely valuable information when defining your audience and social media strategy as it will have an impact on how your audience will be able to view and comment on posts, andhow they will navigate and engage with the site through click-thru links. An over complicated link through could lose their attention and withdraw their interest immediately. Consequently, having a good understanding of where your audience are coming from and what they are interacting with is key to building a following and real engagement across your networks.Another factor to consider is that regular social media use contributes to increasing your company’s SEO which determines where your company is placed on search pages such as Google or Bing. Interesting to note: most people only really read the top three links in search results, let alone further than the first page, and mobile internet users are only able to see the top three search results on first glance.So your brand needs all the social SEO heavyweights that come with distributing across social networks. Engagement Engagement may seem a less than tangible term, however, the point of achieving engagement with your followers and friends is to do with how algorithms of social networks and search rank results are designed and calculated. For example, Facebook has personalised everyone’s news feeds so that the user only sees their ‘friends’ feeds and posts with those that they regularly engage with. Andregular social media use contributes to increasing your sites SEOwhich determines where your company is placed on search pagessuch as Google or Bing. Greater engagement increases click-thru rates, which raises your sites profile in search results. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 2
  4. 4. The takeaway: When it comes to reaching your audience, understanding which social media platforms they commune on; tools they use; what topics they participate in (think simplicity); why, when; and how they use them—then focus your resources (time, budget and people) on those tools, adapting your strategy as you go along using metrics set out at the very beginning of the strategy. SEO’s impact in Social Media Distributing company content across social networks and regular social media activity contributes to increasing your company’s SEO. Simple, huh? Not really. But it can be (greatly) simplified into three aspects. Firstly, networking sites naturally have very high SEO ranking. This is because there are so many people interacting within these sites (we’re talking billions) and the search scale measures this and so ranks accordingly. Secondly, imagine the collective power ofmultiple social network algorithms. The higher up each networks' internal rating system the greater the collective power when all networks thread together. For example, creating a Youtube video, seeding it across multiple networks, embed it on Facebook which is then Liked and commented on by unconnected individuals, which in turns seeds across their own personal networks, who see it come up in their News Feeds. If these people like the video this in turn increases its value up the algorithm chain yet again. The Obstacle – they have to be interested, and they individuals themselves need to be listening to your posts/content/feeds in networks in the first place. Facebook is a good example of this. Even if you have 100 millions Likes, if no one is engaging or interacting with your posts they won’t show up in their feeds. This is the same for feeding across personal networks. If people aren’t talking or Liking each other’s post, they will cease to see the posts, unless they have the same friends. This is why community endorsement is important, it’s not about the first person, or even the second, it’s about shared trusted friendships across the networks that will give power to the content. Of course, the content needs to not only grab the eye but grab the heart, and make people click on the Like or Comment buttons. There are many factors, such as time and money to create the right content targeted for that your audience will enjoy as well as be relevant. An obvious but key factor neither is it easy. If it’s not relevant it won’t be of interest, and if it’s not of interest it won’t be Liked or Shared or even be considered within the individual areas of interest in future. Thirdly, regular social media activity, conversation and engagement with your audience will keep your audience interested. Content doesn’t need to be costly but your audience needs to feel there is someone on the other end of the conversation which will increase their interest and reaffirm their brand loyalty. There are additional technical check points such as metadata, keywords, backlinks and navigation that contribute to the list of how social impacts traditional SEO, but that will take another whitepaper to explain them all. Please refer to my blogfor future posts going into greater detail about Social’s impact on traditional SEO. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 3
  5. 5. Buying Decisions Technology can help time-poor consumers who already have too many choices when making buying decisions. The key is not what the technology is, but how it can help them. Cores factors in making a purchaseare: 1. 2. 3. 4. To solve a problem or need To save time To save money Convenience(which outweighs saving money when time is the greater commodity) The internet gives the buyer what they want, when they want it. They can shop online in the middle of the night or the middle of the afternoon. The buyer can consult expert sources and crowd-source their purchasing decisions through trusted networks of colleagues, friends and family for peer to peer recommendations. When it comes to buying decisions, comments by strangers, families and friends (using star rating systems, unbiased reviews, testimonies, blogs and opinions) have a very strong impact on helping decide and offer transparency, and build trust. There are additional technical check points such as metadata, keywords, backlinks and navigation that contribute to the list of how social impacts traditional SEO, but that will take another whitepaper to explain them all. Please refer back to my blog for future posts going into greater detail about Social’s impact on traditional SEO. TO SUMMARISE: Social media helps youtoinform, interact, engage and create discussions in your community. Your community is not bound by platforms but constructed and managed by brand/company principles. If you build “bases” across the internet, interested consumers will come to your brand because it’s seen as the source for its specialism. In marketing, this is known as a “pull” tactic. “Push” tactics— such as advertising, banners, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click) and sponsorship—are still valuable because they let youreach out to potential followers/fans/users. Tools and Applications Here areseveral coresocial media and networking sites that spread informationdirectly to interested consumers, who then interact and share the content to their networks.There are many more platforms and applications which have additional capabilities—i.e. images, music/sound,real-time comments—to create a richer customer journey and expand the reach of a marketing strategy.A marketer who specialises in Social Media can help your brand navigate this landscape of opportunity, delegating resources where they are most relevant. It’s advantageous to know the main social networks and applications but you do need to have a good breadth of knowledge of how to fully utilise these networks and combine specialist applications of varying mediums to create a strong online brand image,withregular engagement to gain a foothold above your competitors and keep your social media strategy up-to-date and constant. If you don’t have the full resources to do this,it would be advisable to consult an expert who should know a wide range of the technical capabilities. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 4
  6. 6. Key Platforms and their Capabilities Facebook:A perfect platform with a very powerful SEO punch to gather, create and sustain both B2B and B2C communities and their curated content. It centralises community conversations by enabling other social platforms to create tabs within Facebook profiles. Facebook’s new algorithms track what updates its users “Like,” comment and click on, prioritizing posts in its “News Feeds.” I go into greater detail about how it works in my previous post Targeting Audiences. The result connects users with the people they communicate with most and lets Facebook advertisers target their campaigns with greater precision. The most popular content is seeded across personal networks, ensuring a post goes viral, even if for a temporary time. Facebook has recently updated ‘Read by’ applications for news sources and ‘currently trending’, a valuable commodity within this empire. Facebook is constantly updating, changing and expanding the way content and social media data is shared, re-shared and tracked on the web. These changes will be heralded in the tech news first. Twitter:A 140 character messenger tool that delivers content through links from sites or networks to interested audiences. Twitter main site also holds images that are tweeted through. Twitter also connects interested audiences with brand advocates who will then “seed” tweets across into their networks, blogs, forums and websites. The power is in the network: If a tweet is retweeted by someone with a wide-reaching influential network, the network creates a greater ripple across the “Twittersphere”. Tweets can go viral, even turning up on blogs, forums, embedded in social apps (for example, Storify, Twylah, Scoop.It), other social networks, and now collated in traditional offline press. Twitter hashtags- aggregate tweets with identical keyword hashtags (e.g. #social media or #arabspring), making them easy to find by interested users – cross pollinate networks, build interest in a particular topic and crowd-source opinions and tweets. Hashtags are particular good for collating or following event knowledge such as seminars, however they are often hijacked by self-promotional ‘trolls’. Google+: A social networking platform that, in its initial conception, was considered a strong competitor to Facebook. However Google+ operates in quite a different way. Contacts in Google+ are organized into groups or “circles”, which allows users to be selective in what content they share, with specific ‘circles’. Unlike many other social networks, the profile owner chooses whom to follow but this doesn't mean the recipient is required connect. This means that the quality, popularity and context of content is the only way to engage and increase followers. This factor makes the platform a valuable place to target content for categorised groups, but also to receive a positive concentrated response from die-hard brand advocates who join the conversation and in turn share on the media. Being a sister application from the larger Google search engine means it integrates well with the search engine results highlighting +1’s (similar to the ‘Like’ button on Facebook) from fellow followers within search results. The more 1+ the even greater the contribution towards SEO. Additional capabilities of Google+ are Hangout – allowing free video calls for up to ten people; Events – making, managing and integration of events; Local – supporting locality for businesses that uses search results; specific and personable Photo sharing and cloud storage solution for both business and personal use (unique compared with other image based platforms); Games integration; all of these features reach and engagement is enhanced with the powerful search engine as its underlying foundations. There is a place for Google+, 103,216 users think so (as of August 2012.)Google+ is more than a social media platform; it offers a way to integrate personal actions with social interactions, while personally benefiting from platform integration without having to tell your entire network about it. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 5
  7. 7. LinkedIn: A professional networking website designed to build up connections between users who previously know each other. It can be used to find jobs, gain new contacts, follow companies, join groups of interest or upload a CV and a portfolio of work. Since it launched in 2003, LinkedIn has created a whole new way of understanding professional networking and job hunting. A user’s profile in LinkedIn might be seen as a CV 2.0, where you can easily get immediate and accurate information of every company that a user has worked for. In 2008, LinkedIn launched a mobile version of the site, adding some updates to the original version. (As of 10th Oct) LinkedIn has recently redesigned and updated its site the whole user-experience, to include the personalprofessional feed (with counter) for the new centralised landing page, through to being able to follow business pages, access products and services directly through content. It’s very early days but it looks likely to become a far stronger platform within the social scene, particularly centred on professional growth on a Global scale. It already has a very high and powerful SEO ranking which reflects in the backlinks from articles posted. However on the flip side this does mean that this has also resulted in an increase in low-quality content clutter but LinkedIn new trending feed works in a similar way to Google search, showing only personally relevant and popular top ranked content. Because it is for a professional network this contributes towards professional filtering, unlike the lower quality of content that travels across Facebook. There are so many new capabilities that this site now has to offer that I will be writing a new blog post addressing these at a later date. YouTube:Video-sharing website, now owned by Google, that has quickly become a search engine in its own right with the option to post comments, tag video and create personalised channels- all of which increase the rank, or popularity, of content. Video is a valuable tool for social media marketing because it reaches across social networks, demographics, cultures, generations, nationalities, education levels etc. YouTube videos are easy to embed on blogs and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, et al.) increasing the reach and benefiting keywords. YouTube is home to multiple established television channels that increasingly drive traffic direct to the site and it now enables instant subtitle translation capabilities meaning: video content can reach international audiences. Another technique to keep viewers engaged and keep them watching is to offer a multiple choice videos – off-shoots from the original video. The viewers choose by clicking in ringed areas (created during editing and the uploading process) within the screen. This can mimic the navigation of website, offering off-shoots of informational videos, or before and after videos, or lead the viewer to a website or goal-page. The opportunities are endless; it just depends on the concept to engage, influence and sustain the interest of the viewer. Tumblr: An enormously popular blogging platform that offers a simple and quick-to-update framework making it easy for anyone to produce a professional looking blog. Imagery and videos are particularly popular (both viewed and posted) on Tumblr because of the clean layout and sustained professional quality. Tumblr’s power is that it lets users search by blog topic, supporting and building upon its highly engaged community of Tumblr users. There are close to 50 million blogs on Tumblr, which says something about its popularity. Their unique visitors to its blogs increased by more than 200% in the U.S (in 2011) as well. Because of this high level of engagement, Tumblr posts rank higher within search results than blogs on other platforms, offering more opportunities for your brand to be seen. WordPress: A highly popular and simplistic blogging framework that comes in a vast range of designs. Wordpress is so popular that there are a huge choice of widgets and plugins that personalise a blog or create a unique static website. Much like Tumblr,WordPress has a strong WordPress community that drives traffic by grouping topics creating a higher than average return of © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 6
  8. 8. visitors. But its real value lies in the ability to mould your own site to embed widgets and content, and the simplicity of integrating social feeds and links. This site for example has been created using a WordPress framework. Digg: User generated multi-stranded discussion platforms that seed and discuss links, news and content. Reddit users can vote conversations up or down, raising the search rank of popular links, using the original link of the landing site for the material that is being discussed. With 4.6 million unique visitors on Digg, and 5.5 million unique visitors on Reddit (as of August 2012) the power lies in the popularity of a link within a discussion meaning that it can dramatically increase traffic to your site, however the quality of the visitors may be questionable. Both services contribute to internet memes and trends, potentially turning messages about your brand into viral hits on the internet. But be careful. There is a fine line between what your company may think is exciting and what a rabble of Reddit or Digg users may consider ‘naff’. You wouldn’t want your content to go viral for the wrong reasons and become a negative meme. Diigo: A web research and bookmarking tool, and knowledge-sharing community. It is a stand-alone site as well as a convenient widget that works within your browser. Based on the bookmarking format of, Diigo also offers collaborative options such as sharing links within communities and groups of interest. You can also ‘highlight’ selected text or imagery with a range of colours and include ‘post-it note’ comments on web pages, all supporting collaborative working. It’s not great for chronological management but then that’s not the point. Being part of a group means you can choose to be kept informed of progress by email, which increases the reach across multiple networks by sharing information directly with an interested readership. StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon is an application that works within your browser. Users can discover new sites and articles of interest by pressing the StumbleUpon button which refreshes the web browser offering a new web page completely unrelated apart from being of similar topic – literally stumbling upon new web pages across the World Wide Web. It works on a similar principle to Reddit and Digg. Web pages are voted either positively or negatively based the users opinion. When a new page is refreshed the user literally lands on a whole new site. This in turn means that StumbleUpon could be seen to drive an enormous amount of traffic direct to your site. However, because the page refreshes are random, the traffic isn’t targeted and will show a very high bounce rate, meaning the new unique visitor statistics are showing invalid results. This is counterproductive if you are trying to measure a campaign with Google Analytics. If your website has an article about a professional topic you may be voted down because the audience isn’t looking for your content specifically. If they were, they would have searched for it. Comedy, imagery and lighthearted topics go down well in StumbleUpon. Quora:A social network search engine based on topic specific Questions and Answers. Great for researchers, fans of specialist topics, influential thinkers and future advocates of your brand as well as being a good source of “research and responses” too. Quora enables community members to ask questions about a topic of interest, which anyone within the wider platform can answer. Quora can connect through to Facebook (tab) and Twitter (app) highlighting your input on Quora, showing your expertise and interests and reach wider crowd opinion. Instagram: A mobile app that allows users to take pictures, edit them using filters and instantly share them with the fast growing Instagram community. Users can follow others, like or comment on their photos and find friends by connecting with their Facebook or Twitter accounts. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 7
  9. 9. The main difference of Instagram is that it’s exclusively for smartphones and unlike most photosharing platforms, it doesn’t classify the photos that a user uploads – so instead of being an organized online photo album, it’s a way of sharing with others what you are seeing in a specific moment. Pinterest: A visual sharing website where users can upload, ‘pin’, organize, categorize and share their images, videos, slides and even webpages on virtual pinboards. Users can connect with others by ‘repinning’, liking or commenting on their content (or ‘pins’), which connects users with common interests and tastes. Users also have the option of connecting the Pinterest widget with their Facebook accounts to highlight or notifying their Facebook friends and Twitter followers about their choices and recommendations in Pinterest. This works incredibly well with visual based industries and products such as fashion, design, and art as well as being a static memory board for collating post-event content. In spite of the fact that it’s one of the newest platforms around there are more active users using Pinterest on a daily basis than are using Twitter. Enabling a ‘Pin It’ button on your website will vastly increase traffic from the amount of back-links from images on your site, however like StumbleUpon, the traffic is undirected unless you are selling actual items shown on your Pinterest boards. Pinterest is great for gathering traffic from showing true-to-life items however it is more difficult finding a direct sale for conceptual ideas or services. But being connected via your social networks it’s a great way to leverage your content across networks. Seeding tactics to support Social Media Strategies It can be valuable to include these tactics in your social strategy as they complete the circle of customer touch-points, directing interest into sales. Google Search / SEO: If you don’t know this one it may be a lost cause. The most powerful search engine that enables organic searches of interests, its closest competitor is Microsoft’s newer search engine, Bing. Users can search for specific terms within blogs, video content, updates and discussions. The more that a term is searched for, the higher it ranks on Google’s website. An SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist, working as a part of a larger marketing strategy, helps a website appear as close to the top of Google’s search results. SEO management must be an on-going process as search terms and social media discussion trends constantly change.. E-marketing:A form of direct marketing that can increase your customer base. If you request that email newsletters, for example, be forwarded to recipients’ networks, the “pull” influence can be extremely strong since messages shared within a recipient’s network are typically more personal and reach specific targets (the digital civic organization has developed a large customer base established on this tactic alone). Subscription-based emails or newsletters receive a medium to high response, but are often marked as spam when this technique, a primary “push” tactic, is overused.. Blogs and RSS feeds:Sites with dedicated content that build and promote a brand’s product of service, and expand its presence in other social media networks. For example, inventing a marketing blog for a fictional character can elicit an engaging emotional reaction from an empathic audience. Consider the impact of Aleksandr Orlov, from, a character invented for an advertising campaign. Orlov also has more than 750,000 fans on his Facebook page, close to 35,000 followers on Twitter, and has starred in television ads promoting the price comparison website. Not only are this fictional character’s blog posts, Facebook updates and tweets seeded across networks, the social media-based marketing campaign has produced remarkable © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 8
  10. 10. results: about two months after its launch, awareness of the company more than doubled and the company’s cost to acquire new customers dropped seventy-three percent. Glossary Feed: Real-time stream of tweets or Facebook comments and links; found on a homepage or within a widget/application Hashtags: Meta-data tags added to social networking sites such as Twitter and Google+ and aggregate social media conversations under a particular hashtag. They help group collective ideas, events and Global topics. Helps to see what particular topics or news issues are trending to the second. Metrics: Benchmarks designed to measure the success of online tools and application. Push and pull marketing tactics: Push tactics bring your product or service directly to the customer (e.g. via retail stores or trade shows), while pull tactics bring the customer to you (e.g. via social media marketing.) Tools: Social networks, forums, platforms and social media applications that carry your messages to the masses. Twittersphere: Entire universe or world of people who use Twitter. Widgets: Software application that can be added to a website such as Facebook or a Wordpress blog to enhance the user experience (for instance a Twitter widget live-streams your company’s tweets on your website.) © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 9
  11. 11. Need help with your Social Strategy? Kathryn McMann Consultancy offers social media marketing consultancy and a range of intensive training workshops to suit your preferences. For a free consultation contact me, Kathryn at: Office: 44 (0) 330 111 0630 Twitter: @KathrynMcMann If you would like to be kept up to date with the latest news and cutting edge ideas in marketing, communications and technology, follow me and join the conversation at: `1 Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy has made every effort to ensure that the information in this document is complete and accurate, however we do not accept responsibility for errors or omissions. © Kathryn McMann Holistic Marketing Consultancy 2013 10