A Business’ Guide to Social

In the world of social media, it can be difficult to determine which site is best for your business. Each of them offers unique opportunities and ways to engage with your customers. Here is a breakdown of social media sites for businesses.

Facebook: As the largest social network, Facebook reaches a staggering amount of people world wide,which means a larger audience for your to broadcast your brand to. However, due to recent algorithm changes the business’ page is less visible. Luckily though for business, Facebook is still the number one social network for social referrals. Therefore, businesses should not disregard Facebook yet. While what they can do organically as a company is more limited, the potential to generate social referrals is greater here than anywhere else. And since Facebook users are generally more trusting than users of other social media sites, there is room still to capture more customers through this site.

Twitter: Unlike Facebook, Twitter still allows brands to have direct and free access to their customers or possible customers. While the audience is slightly smaller than that on Facebook, Twitter creates an open forum for discussions with customers, as long as it is under 140 characters. In addition, for B2B companies, Twitter allows you to interact directly with the leaders of your industry who would otherwise just be a figurehead you see at conferences. Twitter puts people on the same playing field with equal opportunity to reach a community.

Google+: While Google+ is still the punch line to many jokes, it should definitely be taken seriously by anyone that wants to get noticed by Google. Since this social networking site is clearly run by Google, your Google+ business page will inevitably show up towards the top of Google search results. While right now it may seem like a waste of time, it is still important and should not be ignored.

LinkedIn: If you are a B2B business you should be on LinkedIn, and if you are not, change that immediately. LinkedIn is the best forum for businesses to show their brand and what they do. While the organic reach for businesses on LinkedIn is not the greatest, it is important that other businesses and industry leaders can locate you and see your legitimacy. Also, if there is money in the ad budget, you can sponsor some updates that can spread your reach to people that don’t already know about you.

Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine and Youtube: I bundled these five together because of their common center around visual media. Each of these has many different uses that can help promote your business online but they all do so by promoting you with a different medium. First, by using visual media to explain what your company does, you can engage more people , because it is proven that people engage more with photos and other visual media than merely text. For instance, you can use a video on Youtube to explain what your business does or create a six second Vine that shows your product in action. Or, if your business sells something, such as flowers, you can use Intagram and/or Snapchat to show your creations in all their beauty. Pinterest also has the same ability to use photos that then interest people to come to your site. All of these sites also have the ability to make your brand seem more human. While on Facebook and Twitter you can respond to questions and post something comical, it can be difficult to come off as a real human being and not just a robot. By using visual social media, you can post images of your employees, your product and it gives you more leeway to be goofy and funny without seeming like you are trying too hard. Visual media allows you to put a face with the brand, something that customers love to see.

There is a basic guide to social media for businesses. What social media platform do you think is best for businesses?

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Organic Reach on Facebook and How it Affects You

If you are like most small businesses, you probably have a company Facebook page that you use to get information out to your current customers and engaged with potential customers; you might have used this page to inform your audience about deals, events and services. Facebook proved to be an excellent, free tool that allowed you to reach your customers and keep them informed. Unfortunately, Facebook is still a business and they still have the end goal of making money. Therefore, the small business owner’s paradise of organic reach through Facebook has slowly been falling through their fingertips. Organic reach started at 16% in 2007 and has been decreasing ever since. Furthermore, due to recent algorithm changes, the organic reach on Facebook is expected to be cut down drastically to a mere 1-2%. The purpose of this in the eyes of Facebook is to encourage businesses to purchase ad space on Facebook opposed to just getting advertising for free. Clearly though, this hurts the small business that maybe does not want to pay for advertising on Facebook.

While Facebook advertising is relatively cost-effective and can be fairly effective when targeted correctly, there is more that businesses can do to get their brand out there. By having customers and brand advocates recommend and promote your business on their own Facebook page, it allows your business to be out in the online sphere, receiving organic, unparalleled exposure without paying for ads. In addition, by utilizing other social networking platforms, which have yet to lose organic reach, such as Twitter, your business can still reach your customers without a huge bill.

 

The Problem with Reviews

There is an epidemic going on in the world of customer reviews. They are near non-existent and businesses seem to have little control over the few reviews written about them. What exactly is the problem you may be asking? There are plenty of outlets for customers to express their opinion about a company. But who are actually posting reviews on all these avenues? There are those customers that will always write a review on a site such as Yelp, but these are typically the people that have had extreme experiences, both good and bad, and are looking for an avenue to vent their frustrations. In a recent study, it was discovered that only 4.7% of your customers are providing 100% of your customer reviews. So how do you get the unengaged, the 95.3% that don’t write reviews, to promote your company?

One of the main problems with most review websites is the process of reviewing. When a happy customer wants to write you a positive review, they are forced to look at a blank white box and formulate sentences about your business and they may not have anything specific to say other than “You’re awesome!” or “I like it here”. Then they give up and leave it to the 4.7% that will review your business. In addition, what is missing from customer review sites is the social interaction. Most of the time, you are reading reviews written by strangers. When family or friends write these reviews, they are immediately more credible. In addition, 81% of people would be willing to share their experience online through social media with their friends and family. Yet they aren’t.

Now comes the question of how to fix this problem. While businesses can ask customers to write reviews for them on Yelp or similar sites, it still leaves the customers to author their own reviews which can be an overwhelming task. In order to increase customer acquisition and in turn business, there must be an emphasis put on reviews and getting those reviews from the customer to their friends and family. And it is becoming quite clear that the easiest form of communication to friends and family is through social media. By getting customers to write reviews for your business and then publishing those reviews on social media creates a larger audience for your business to reach out to and in turn, more business.

13 Social Media Experts to Follow

The world of social media marketing can be a difficult one to maneuver. With technology changing constantly, it seems difficult to find your place in the vast world of the internet. Luckily, there are plenty of social media experts out there who make it their goal to help you manage your social presence. So, without further ado, here are my favorite thirteen social media bloggers/tweeters, in no particular order, that make social media easy.

1.  Pam Dyer:

One of Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencers, Pam writes about social media marketing and always provides great tips and advice for conquering the online world. Follow her @pamdyer and check out her website.

2.  Chris Makara:

As an “interactive marketing and digital strategist”, Chris deals with anything digital. His blog always has excellent advice about content marketing and making winning blog posts. Follow him on twitter @chrismakara or check out his website

3.  Laura Fitton:

Laura is a writer for HubSpot and founder of oneforty.com. She co-wrote Twitter for Dummies. She is responsible for getting business involved in Twitter and was the first to start a consultancy business particularly for twitter. Her tweets are always provides adorable and insightful. She focuses on inbound marketing and Twitter. Follow her @Pistachio and read more about her.

4.  Shay Moser:

As a writer for Social Media Today, Shay writes specifically about startups. If you are interested in the up and coming companies in the social media field, be sure to check out Shay on Twitter @shaymoser or read her articles via Social Media Today.

5.  Ekatrina Walter:

A Wall Street Journal Best Selling author, Ekaterina is constantly providing helpful advice for startups. She is the author of Think Like Zuck and The Power of Visual Storytelling. Follow her @Ekaterina or go to her website.

6.  Charlene Kingston:

Charlene makes social media marketing a piece of cake with her DIY advice. Always helpful, she simplifies social media for businesses and helps everyone become social media pros. She is also a featured blogger on socialmediaexaminer.com (@SMExaminer) Follow her @SocialMediaDIY or check out her website.

7.  Amy Porterfield

Amy is a social media strategist that co-authored Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies. She always tweets the best advice and links to awesome articles. Follow her @AmyPorterfield and check out her website.

8.  Sheila Hibbard

Sheila is an expert Social Media and Marketing guide. She thrives to help small businesses grow their presence on social media. Her blog themarketingbit.com provides helpful advice about social media marketing. Follow her @sheilahibbard.

9.  Mari Smith

Mari’s claim to fame is mastering social media marketing, particularly on Facebook, which got her named as one of Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencers. Follow her @marismith or check out her blog.

10. Kim Garst:

One of Forbes top ten social media influencers, Kim uses Twitter and Facebook to provide advice and helpful tips to master social media. Follow her @kimgarst and check out her website.

11. Jay Baer

This best-selling author runs convinceandconvert.com, which focuses on marketing online and on social media. He is constantly coming out with impressive content that informs and entertains. Follow him @jaybaer.

12.   Jeff Bullas

If there is anything you ever need to know about blogging, you can find it on jeffbullas.com. Jeff always provides excellent advice about how to create a solid social presence online. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbullas.

13.   Brian Solis

Brian Solis covers everything from business relationships to the philosophy behind selfies. Always interesting and relevant, Brian Solis has become one of the most listened to voices in the world of social media. Follow him @briansolis or check out his blog.

Obviously there are so many more that I could include, but then this list would be never ending. Maybe a part two will come soon. If so who else should be included? Who is your social media guru?

 

 

 

Reaching the Unreachables

          Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the most aloof demographic: those that are too busy live tweeting the latest Michael Bay movie and listening to “underground” musicians to care about your company. This group is of course “Millennials”. While they have many names, Generation N, Generation Y etc., millennials have yielded the greatest presence online and are shaping the direction the Internet will head.

          Who exactly are millennials? While it may be too soon to officially segment this generation, millennials are thought to generally be anyone born between 1980 and 2000, other reports say they are 18-34 year olds, but millennials commonly represent those that are “digital natives”. By being born into a world that had begun to embrace, or in the case for the younger end of this demo, fully embraced, the Internet, cell phones and every other technological advancement that is indicative of the new millennium, this generation grew up with technology at their fingertips. Millennials were instrumental in the launch of social networks, first by creating them and then joining and promoting, forming Facebook and Twitter into the monstrosities that we see today. And they have used the Internet and social media to facilitate change as seen during the Arab Spring and Kony 2012. On a lesser scale, social sites such as Youtube have catapulted people into stardom and Twitter has lead the call for  #CancelColbert.

          But why do millennials matter to your business? This generation is the largest in United States’ history and therefore possesses a lot of buying power. Knowing this, businesses must reach these young people in order to grow their company. Which is where problems began to arise: Unlike their parents and grandparents, millennials do not respond to the traditional advertising such as television or print. In addition, millennials tend to be easily bored or disinterested. What this means for your company is that if your traditional ad does not engage these younger customers, it will have little impact. This generation wants to feel like an individual opposed to just being one among many. In order to feel this individuality, millennials take to the Internet and talk to businesses directly forcing businesses to put more of their time and energy into managing these social media accounts.

          What else can be done though besides making funny online ads and communicating directly with customers? As it turns out, the most influential form of information is user generated content with 50% trusting it more than traditional media sources. By getting others to talk about your brand online and become brand advocates, you can reach this seemingly unreachable generation.

The Creation of the “Feed”

          In the past ten years, we have seen a change in the way that we consume content; instead of reading full articles, we read tidbits of information that attempt to encapsulate a story. Where this trend began it is difficult to say; newspaper articles have always been summarized with a headline and books with abstracts. However, recently we have seen these trends bleed over into the world of social media where they have become an entity of their own and in many cases, our main form of absorbing content. As people were introduced to Facebook and later Twitter, they quickly became accustomed to the concept of “newsfeeds”. Whether people are posting a status update, tweeting what they had for lunch, or checking BuzzFeed for the latest news/cat videos, they are constantly exchanging information through a feed. The newsfeed allows news, commentary and knowledge to be abbreviated in order to fit into the puzzle that is the consumers’ busy lives.

          But how important is the newsfeed? As it turns out, very. Nearly half of the population has a smart phone with them at all times, which is, for all intents and purposes, a little computer. Even more important than the number of people with smart phones is the manner in which consumers use them. In a study conducted by Facebook and International Data Corporation, they found that 79% of people ages 18-44 have their smartphones on their person 22 hours a day and 25% of people could not remember a time when their phone was not in earshot.

          When these two ideas converge, constant content crosses with constant connection, we arrive at the current state of the “feed”. The feed has simplified the Internet to put all the information we crave into bite-size pieces that can easily be consumed on these devices that are rapidly becoming an extension of our person. In a TED talk by Clay Shirky, he describes how the concept of the feed in Kenya enabled people to post information and see on a map what was going on in real time and where it was happening. Through this, along with many other community building trends on the internet such as cat memes as Shirky mentions, the amount of information and the connection with said information creates an online community of consumers and influencers. While the feed can allow important information to be digested quicker and in many cases help people, as seen after the earthquake in Haiti when people were able to use social media to contact family, the feed is also just a way of keeping in touch with family, friends, news and businesses. Feeds, whether they be on Facebook or Twitter, update you on the latest happenings of those you are closest to. Today, 63% of people claim that they check their newsfeed, specifically on Facebook, multiple times a day or are constantly checking and another 27% checking everyday. Earlier this month, the founder of sharethrough.com, a tool that “powers in-feed ads for modern content publishers”, Dan Greenberg tweeted these six definitions and facts (included below) that put into perspective the convergence of “native, mobile and feeds”. With these three concepts in mind we can leverage the feed to create native advertising, generated by consumers, to grow businesses.

tweets for blog 4.0

         By knowing the power of the newsfeed and the reach it has, businesses must utilize social networks and the feed in order to reach their customers where they already are. Only by understanding where this trend has come from can we understand where it will be going and how to use it to its fullest potential.

 

 

Why Word of Mouth?

In 1955, Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarfeld published Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications. This book marked the first recognition of word of mouth marketing as an influencer in the marketplace. While word of mouth has always existed, it did not really become a focus for companies until Katz and Lazarfeld pointed out the relationship between consumer behavior changes and paid messaging versus word of mouth messaging. Now, it is widely known that word of mouth marketing is a useful marketing strategy. Word of mouth is the primary factor behind up to 50% of all purchasing decisions and 50% are very likely to purchase something after a “word of mouth” recommendation.

However, the word of mouth marketing world is still rather unexplored. Even though 73% of adults in the US are on social media, only 10% of customer recommendations happen online. Customers have much more value than you think. While there is the immediate financial gain from having a customer, the value that comes with having a loyal customer that will then get more customers in the door is better than any other form of advertising. Word of mouth recommendations obviously happen in person but when these conversations happen online, it opens up the dialogue to a larger audience. This then spreads the word about your business to the friends and family of your current happy customers to get more in the door. By utilizing social media and your loyal customers, you will expand your customer influence and acquisition.

Additional Sources:

Keller, Ed, and Brad Fay. “Word of Mouth Advocacy: A New Key to Advertising Effectiveness.” Journal of Advertising Research (2012): 459-64. Business Source Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.

Ryals, Lynette. “Determining the Indirect Value of a Customer.” Journal of Marketing Management 24.7 (2008): 847-64. Business Source Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.