Category Archives: Google Plus

How Can I Better Manage My Company’s Social Media Accounts?

by My Web Writers
Manage Social Media

For many of us, managing our own social media accounts is enough to keep us busier than we’d like. But when you’re given the responsibility of also managing your company’s social media accounts, this task should be given a fairly different approach and a lot more consideration. There’s no doubt that social media holds the power to become a business’s first impression for many of its customers. Because of this, a professional and well thought out social media management plan is critical for any company. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track of tackling this important marketing component:

Create an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar allows you layout all of your planned social media posts for the coming month. For a company structure where such posts need to be pre-approved by the owner, this is an essential tool. To create an editorial calendar, there are several templates you can find online, or you can simple create a calendar in a Word Doc and format it to fit your needs. All it needs to include is what you’re planning to post and for what accounts. Include the links to any videos or web pages to make for an easy copy and paste action when you do go to post. Finally, an editorial calendar is just as beneficial to you as it is to a company owner. You will be able to easily see how often you’re planning to post and if there are any holes you need to fill. While the calendar may take several hours to initially create, it will make the rest of the month’s social media posting nearly effortless.

Automate your regular updates.

In speaking of making social media posting effortless, what’s less effort than when something is automated? Web sites like HootSuite.com and TweetDeck.com both offer automated social media posting for little to no cost. Once you create your editorial calendar, you can easily plug in the posts and schedule them in advance so that the rest of the month your regular updates are firing off exactly when they should regardless of how hectic your schedule gets. Note: it’s great to use automation for the pre-written tweets and updates, but social media is meant to be live and in the moment. Don’t tune out from all the news and announcements that may crop up unexpectedly that should be shared on social media. Be sure to get these out ASAP the “old fashioned” way—manually!

Make it a group effort.

While one person in a company may be designated as the social media manager, it’s important to remember that social media is meant to be social after all! Make this task a group effort by allowing everyone to offer input on what should be promoted or emphasized on social media. Many of your co-workers might have great suggestions for a contest to run or a question to ask to spark discussion. This input will also help fill up your editorial calendar with fresh ideas without you wracking your brain each month.

Do less, but do it better.

Just as in so many other aspects of life, you simply don’t need to do it all! There are countless social media platforms available to you, but that doesn’t mean you need to use every single one. Your time is not best spent managing 15+ social media accounts at a mediocre level. Instead, focus on your top performing 3-5 social media accounts (the ones with the largest audience and most interaction) and spend your time making these exceptional. For many businesses, these will include Twitter and Facebook to start. From there, you may also find YouTube, Digg or Google+ to be beneficial. Depending on your business and the product or service that you’re selling, your social media focus might be different from other businesses—and that’s OK!

Not only should every social media platform be handled differently, so should every social media account—business or personal. Following these tips, you’ll be able to create a professional image for your company that is both effective and well thought out.  ~Stephanie

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, Social Media, Social Media contests, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube

How Should My Business Use Google+?

By My Web WritersKasey

According to Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz, “Google+ is Google. The entry points to Google+ are many, and the integrations are more every day” ( Wall Street Journal).  Recently, the search engine has made waves by streamlining the integration between Google, Google+, YouTube, Zagat, and other online reviewing platforms. The bottom-line for many businesses is that Google+ has become unavoidable. In using any Google Apps, a Google+ profile is automatically established.  Author ranks are now passed through Google profiles. As Google pushes hard to merge many popular tools across the internet into a more public profile on Google+, it is in the best interest of businesses to keep ahead of the curve and use their Google+ profiles to increase visibility, rank, and industry engagement.

 Boost SEO through Google+

As Google strives to make Google+ integral to internet use, Google+ is likely to carry a lot of weight in SEO ranking.  Using Google+ as part of your personal or business online presence can help return better results. Set up a business site for your company on Google+ and begin to share your company pages, promotions, and news on the feed. As with any SEO, the more active your page, the more good it will do you.  You can also boost your SEO by using Google+ as a social networking platform. Install the +1 button on your pages or blog so that others can share your site. According the the Wall Street Journal, last month over 235 million people used such features. Not only does this platform increase engagement with your site, it also can help to build your rank in Google searches. Google Analytics even features an array of tools that can help you gather and analyze trends in the traffic on your page.

Network with Industry Experts

As Google+ continues to integrate with email and other applications, the ability to connect with other people becomes more open, especially as Google+ profiles are more public than many other similar platforms. Use Google+ to connect with leaders in your industry. Find the profiles for companies or individuals who you want to connect with and add them to your circles. You can comment and ask questions in a setting where they most likely will actually see and read your posts. As Google+ is still developing its niche, now is a great time to take advantage of the relatively easy-access it provides to other people.

Develop Your Public Persona

As you use Google+ to engage with readers as well as network with the big names in your industry, you can also use your Google+ profile to develop your public or company persona. Use the photo albums to share pictures from around the office, the company picnic, trade shows, conferences, or other events. Capture a sense of your company’s personality and make your social media personal, giving visitors a sense of the faces and people behind the great services you offer. The tidy, low-key setup of Google+ allows you to do so without detracting from the visibility of the most important details about your business. Finally, when you share posts on Google+, you can use the ripples tool to see the spread and impact of your posts on Google+. Google also offers social analytics for conversions, pages, plug-ins, and sources to help you gather numbers and data about your company within the network.

Conference with Experts in Google Hangouts

In addition to the many ways you can use Google+ profiles to enhance your brand or to network, you can also use Google Hangouts to run meetings or connect with others. Unlike Skype, Google Hangouts allow you to video chat with up to ten people, making it a great tool for having face-to-face conversations with people you might not meet with otherwise. Instead of flying an expert or consultant in to meet with your office, set up a Google Hangout so that your team can discuss strategies, techniques, or other information in a way that makes the most of everyone’s time. Google Hangouts are especially handy for educators, small companies, and professionals who travel frequently, facilitating smoother communication and a more cost-effective way to meet with experts or associates.

For more information on how to use Google Plus to boost your business, check out Marni’s tips on how to use Google Plus for Content Marketing.  ~Kasey

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Filed under Google Plus, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media

Top Media Managers Reveal Ideas for Better Social Media Marketing

by My Web WritersTips from Top Social Media Marketers

Social media marketing does not often conform to steadfast rules or conventional wisdom.  It’s a skill and a talent that takes patience, practice and a natural ability in order to excel.  Here are just a few powerful quotes from the world’s most experienced and influential social media mangers:

“A large part of this relationship marketing concept is allowing yourself to be a little bit vulnerable and let people in.”(Mari Smith, Social Media Speaker & Author)

Mari makes an excellent point – social media is a platform to get personal and really let people in. For a company, this means showcasing your “human element” and letting your customers get to know you and your people on a more personal level than what can be offered through your web site or business card alone. And from time to time, yes, it’s perfectly OK and sometimes beneficial to express a dilemma, difficulty or weakness and ask your network for input.

“Make influencers a part of your movement, even temporarily, and they’ll understand the brand and its worth far greater than if you just invite them on a factory tour or send them free product.”(Jay Bear, President of Convince and Convert)

This quote connects with one of the key tips to all social media marketing, which is to talk with your audience not at your audience.  Engage your followers! The more you can make your network feel a personal part of something your company is doing, the more they are likely to build a deeper relationship and a vested interest in your brand.

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”(David Alston, Chief Adoption Officer – Marketing Cloud at Salesforce)

When you have something important to say, it’s tempting to fire it out on every medium available to you. While a press release or media advisory are great tools for communicating with traditional press, these won’t work for social media marketing. Furthermore, every post for every different social media account should be slightly tweaked to connect with that specific audience. How you say something on Twitter (with #’s and @’s) won’t resonate on your Facebook page. Create thoughtful and genuine posts for each social medium and your information is more likely to engage and less likely to blend into the white noise.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon.com)

Social media is powerful stuff. And though almost 100% of users would agree to this statement, we all too easily forget how quickly information can catch like wildfire and spread. For positive information you want promoted, this is great. But if you have a disgruntled customer, this could be devastating. This is even more reason to be careful with your actions and words on social media than in the real world because of how easily it can be shared with thousands or millions of other people with the click of a button.

“Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences.” (Mike DiLorenzo, NHL social media marketing director)

If you want to create the absolutely most effective social media to represent your brand and market your business, you must create an experience that is memorable to your networks. Social media is, after all, what broke the mold on traditional marketing. Your options are limitless as to how you can create a unique viral marketing campaign. Don’t settle for the easy or the obvious, continually push yourself to set a new creative standard.

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
(Erin Bury, Sprouter community manager)

This quote simply says it all – and if it could be made a banner on every social media web site to remind us of this before we post an update, it would save many people and businesses from the all too common social media “uh oh’s!”

Woven inside each of these quotes is a valuable lesson worthy of adding to our set of social media tools. While the authors may come from various degrees of experience and schools of thought, these quotes reach far broader than just social media marketing – and if you think openly – can applied toward many aspects of our business and our life. ~Stephanie

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Social Networking for Business; Success Stories from Three Brands

By My Web Writers

Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The importance of social marketing in today’s businesses can’t be understated. There are countless ways that companies try to capture the attentions of Internet users, striving for thumbs ups, shares, +1’s, tweets, pins, and likes. As Google has started taking these social media indicators into account, the democracy of social media makes an even bigger impact. A creative, consistent approach to using social media, to actually interact with consumers, sets some brands above the others.  Just consider these three brand’s social networking, success stories:

Mod Cloth

Created by Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger when they were still in college, over the last couple of years, ModCloth has become one of the fastest growing apparel retailers. The brand specializes in retro-inspired independent designers and vintage apparel. Social media is a prominent part of the brand and the website, as ModCloth highly encourages customer involvement. Through the perpetual Be the Buyer program, customers vote on which styles the company should stock. Occasionally, the company also runs design contests or “Name It and Win It” contests to name pieces of apparel, facilitated by Twitter (the brand has 800,00+ followers) or the ModBlog. Run by a team of “social butterflies,” the social marketing side of the business helps generate and sustain buzz around new products and promotions. In an interview with Thoroughly Modern Marketing, social media manager Natasha Khan explained that the contests on sites such as Twitter and Pinterest help generate consumer interest and earn new customers. For example, “Every month we do a Twitter topic mashup! For example, one month, we asked our followers to mash up fashion terms and famous books using hashtag #literaryfashion. The contest gained us not only fans, but attention from acclaimed poet Margaret Atwood.”

Oscar Mayer

Recently, Oscar Mayer sent comedian Josh Sankey on a trip across the country with only Butcher Thick Cut Bacon to barter with—no money. The journey was logged at BaconBarter.com as well as through a variety of social media outlets including Sankey’s twitter feed, the brand’s YouTube channel, and Facebook page. As the story progressed, Sankey received an onslaught of tweets from an audience entertained by what he was able to trade bacon for. Further, the antic-based ad received coverage from mainstream news sources such as The Huffington Post. Sure, bacon’s already having a cultural moment, but, despite a hard year for farms, Oscar Mayer took advantage of the zeitgeist and created a bacon story that people would follow, increasing the social networking of their brand.

Etsy

As the go-to hub for handcrafted and vintage goods, Etsy and Pinterest are a match made in heaven and the brand has taken advantage of the naturalness of that pairing. The brand uses pinboards on Pinterest to showcase goods as well as how-tos and informative pieces from their blog. Their popular treasuries and gift guides work excellently as pinboards, promoting sales as well as interaction between consumers and the site. Hubspot notes, “You can of course connect to the thousands of items for sale on its ecommerce site, but Etsy’s account also shows you how you can make your own products and how to put their products to work in your daily life, which again, emphasizes the lifestyle philosophy that Pinterest promotes.” In this way, the brand uses Pinterest to make already existing components of their site more accessible and bookmarkable for users.

Even if you don’t have the budget or base of one of these big brands, you can still make social media work for you. Check out our Social Media Tips for Small Businesses for ideas on how to amplify your voice in social networking. Or, see Mashable’s Infographic on Social Media Marketing for must-have facts about social networking. ~Kasey

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Filed under Business Strategy, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, Social Media, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube

Five Social Media Contest Ideas for E-Tailers

by My Web Writers

Vision.

Energy!

Enthusiasm…

And a whole lot of FUN!

That’s what it takes to host a successful social media contest if you’re an e-tailer.

Soooo…..

Are you as familiar as you should be with all those social media websites you use? It’s just a question (one that will make the difference in how much traffic you gain as a result of sponsoring your contest); but it’s only a question, just the same.

Facebook

Sharing a post and offering a prize to people who promote it the best is fairly easy to do.  Share a few posts (of specific items) and give a prize to the person who comments the most on all of them.  Rules for commenting may apply.  It’s also important to follow Facebook Rules for Contests.

Of course, we all know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photo albums are always fun to look at on Facebook.

Have your audience make a crazy photo album using product(s) from your e-store. This is particularly great to do with your satisfied customer base, as it will reward them for their patronage. Once customers have created their album, they can link back to your Facebook page and all your followers can vote on the best album.  The grand prize will be a goody, and runners up’s will win a few small tokens, too. Plus, all participants can receive a special coupon via email.

Pinterest

Speaking of pictures…

Pinterest is a gold mine for them.

Pick your favorite product and host a Pin It to Win It contest and drawing. Start the pinning, and everyone who plays gets entered into a drawing to win the product.

Name that Product Contest is another unique and fun idea. Pin a product and encourage participants to come up with a fabulously catchy name for it, submitted in the comments. Then, send them back to your Facebook page, where people can vote on the best name. This way, you draw traffic to your site from both Pinterest and Facebook simultaneously!

On-site Scavenger Hunts

This is a little tricky, so you need to plan it well. Use your blog as home base. Send people off in search of a specific product, via visiting other product pages. On each of those product pages, they’ll know they’ve found the clue, because they’ll be sent back to home base (a separate blog post) when they do. Upon finding the last clue, customers will be sent back to home base, where they can provide information to receive their prize.

Contest Necessities

It’s true. Contests can be a lot of fun, especially for excited participants. As a host, however, it’s important to remember a few details.

  • Encourage more participation, by making it easy to enter.
  • State the rules clearly from the start. Make them concise and easy to follow.
  • Understand and follow social media rules, before hosting a contest on networks, to avoid unnecessary repercussions and consequences.
  • Choose prizes wisely, and make them worth the effort of participating in the contest.
  • Articulate clear parameters, including beginning and ending dates, participation requirements, limits in prize availability and the like.

Other Social Media Contest Ideas

We’ve compiled a list of sites with additional, creative ideas for running contests.  If you’re short on staff to effectively run these contests you can always hire additional, social media professionals.

The Beginners Guide to Running Social Media Contests 

4 Awesome Types of Successful Twitter Contests

Boost Your Social Media Marketing: 5 Creative Ideas

5 Great Facebook Contest Ideas

9 Businesses Using Pinterest Contests to Drive Traffic and Exposure

~MJ

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Filed under Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Social Media, Social Media contests, Twitter

The Pros and Cons of Ghost Tweeting

By My Web Writers

You’ve heard of “ghost writers”- people who write books or articles but someone else gets the credit. “Ghost tweeters” are paid to act as someone else, with that person’s permission, and to tweet for them. How does that make you feel?  To help you decide, here are some pros and cons to “ghost tweeting.”

PRO – Time Management

The CEO of a major company has much more important things to worry about than the company’s Twitter account, but the marketing department knows people will respond more if they think they are hearing from someone at the top of the company, not a marketing assistant at the bottom of the company. The CEO gives its marketing department the okay to act as him or her on Twitter, giving the CEO time to focus on the actual business. Fans and customers interact with the “CEO” on Twitter, and never know that they really aren’t speaking to him or her at all.  Even if some people do realize they aren’t hearing from the actual CEO, as long as the content presented is good, some might not care who it is.

PRO – Your Followers Feel a Personal Connection

It’s only natural that people connect with people better than people connect with a business or brand. A ghost tweeter, or multiple ghost tweeters, can act as the personal face of a brand. The tweeter could be the president of the company, a general manager, or simply anyone who seems like a “big deal” in the company. Think about it: say you had a question about a meal at your favorite restaurant. You head to the restaurant’s Twitter page to ask. Would you rather ask your question to the restaurant and a logo, or to the head chef whose photo is smiling back at you? People love to interact with other people, but those people don’t always have the time to do so. Ghost tweeting allows customers to interact with a “person” instead of a logo or brand.

CON – You’re Busted and You Lose Trust

Sometimes, execs don’t advertise that they’re employing ghost tweeters.  People who interact with the ghost tweeters have no clue that they aren’t really speaking to the person in the photo.  A customer and/or fan might think he or she is forming a relationship with someone really important at the brand.  Even Martha Stewart was duped on her show when she looked at her Twitter feed and thought James “Buster” Douglas became her follower. She invited him on her show, though she was unknowingly tweeting with Douglas’ publicist.

What happens when the fan and the real person meet? The real brand exec won’t have a clue about the Twitter conversations the fan might refer to in conversation. After all, it was actually someone else who formed the connection with the customer. Once this is discovered, the fan may feel used and misguided causing a lack of trust.  Ghost Tweeters is a Twitter account with 148 followers that goes as far as to call out those celebrities and brands that ghost tweet.  Conversely, Ghost Tweetings, with over 8600 followers, boasts, “Twitter Done For You. All of the benefits, none of the work.”

Con – Ghost Tweeters Gone Wild

If you’re the CEO of a company, and you’re giving a ghost tweeter the power to be you, be sure you trust that person. Your ghost tweeter is literally posing as you to all of your customers who follow you on Twitter. An accidental non-politically-correct Tweet could ruin your personal reputation.

Some believe that outsourcing the job of keeping up with the Twitter page for a “brand” is acceptable, but not for a specific person. It will likely continue, especially in the world of entertainment. If your favorite celebrity is tweeting all hours of the day and night, it’s highly unlikely that it’s actually them.

What do you think?  Do most Twitter users realize that ghost tweeters exist?  How should a celebrity or brand manage its social media accounts?

Editor’s Note:  My Web Writers ghost tweets and writes website content for various brands.  It’s our observation that most companies employ in-house and outsourced ghost tweeters and content writers and never promise that the CEO or brand hero is doing the interacting.  In the cases where the ghost tweeters are working for individuals, it’s important to remember that most celebrities and CEO’s want to reach out, but just don’t have time to write every single one of their blog posts, Facebook posts, or tweets, though, they may contribute here and there.  While most social media users understand that representatives might be tweeting and blogging on behalf of brand heroes and celebrities, clarity in the profile is always appreciated.  Ghost tweeters serve their brands and celebrities well when Twitter summary reports are provided on a regular basis to account owners to eliminate the in person surprises Natalie mentions and to help CEO’s stay abreast of valuable trends and feedback.  

~Natalie

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Managing Social Media in a Crisis – Best Practices & Case Studies

By My Web Writers

Imagine that things are going great for your business (we certainly hope they are!)  You’re keeping up with your social media accounts, you have great content writers, and you frequently engage with your customers all over the World Wide Web.

Then, out of nowhere, a crisis hits. Your phone lines go out for days and you can’t take call-in orders. Your website crashes. Someone has stolen customers’ credit card information.  You shipped out a defective product.  And before you know it, the Internet explodes with customers talking about you, and not in a good way.

How should you handle your social media sites when crisis strikes?  Sit back and ignore it?  Face it head-on?  Here are some tips on handling your social media accounts during a company crisis.

Have a Plan Ahead of Time

It’s a plan you hope to never have to use, but it’s a good idea to know ahead of time how you will respond to a company crisis. Come up with a policy as to how you will respond, or not respond, to what’s being said online.  It doesn’t take long for customers to start buzzing about your company online, especially if the company is at fault for the crisis.

Learn from Others

In 2009, two Domino’s Pizza employees posted an inappropriate video on YouTube of the two of them doing non-sanitary things to the food.  It didn’t take long for the company CEO to post an apology video on YouTube to address the situation.  Using YouTube provided an immediate reaction to what could have been a fatal video to the Domino’s Pizza franchise.

After the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, BP did a fine job of updating customers on what they were doing to correct the problem.  What BP didn’t do was engage with its customers.  It rarely responded to criticism and even went so far as to attempt to get Twitter to shut down the accounts of people saying negative things about BP.  Don’t try and hide what people are saying.  Address it.

In 2010, Nestle got itself into a social media nightmare when its Facebook poster was sarcastic and flat-out rude with many customers.  After facing rumors of purchasing palm oil that contributed to rainforest destruction, some graphic artists took the Nestle logo and changed it to show their distaste with the company.  Nestle fired back, claiming the use of their altered logo violated their trademark and said anyone using the altered logo on their Facebook page would have their comments deleted.

The public reacted negatively, claiming free-speech rights, and Nestle responded with a bad attitude where everyone could see- on their Facebook page. Soon, customers weren’t only talking about the palm oil issue, but also the Facebook issue. As if one crisis wasn’t enough, Nestle created a crisis on top of another.

Be a Person, Not a Response

The human touch will get you much further than a canned or automated response in times of crisis. Believe it or not, the way you react during a crisis can turn into a bonding experience with your customers and actually improve your reputation as a company.  If your company messed up, be honest. Apologize and let your customers know how you plan on fixing the problem and what you will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Seek What Customers are Saying

Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only places people will be talking. It’s a good idea to have your company on “Google Alerts,” so any time you’re mentioned in the press, you will be alerted. Also, check online forums and message boards to see what people are saying. Look at things from the perspective of your customers, and ask for ideas on how to make things right.

Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy. If your company messed up, say it, and then let people know how you plan on fixing things.  In 2011, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, dropped out of a speaking commitment when a gay rights organization insisted it would boycott Starbucks and turn up the heat if the CEO spoke at Willow Creek Community Church’s annual Leadership Summit.  Bill Hybels crafted an incredibly sensitive, honest, and thoughtful public relations statement about the issue.

Silence is NOT Golden

Don’t be silent.  Not reacting to a crisis leaves the door open for people to come up with their own reasons as to why the crisis happened. And if you aren’t responding to the false information, why wouldn’t customers believe it to be true?

On the other hand, if you’re a celebrity and embarrassing a cheating girlfriend is not your objective, then take the higher road and skirt.  You can show up and move forward without disclosing every single detail of an inside disaster.

In times of crisis, the key is to be prepared and address the issues as soon as possible.  Know that it doesn’t mean the end of the world, no matter how bad things may seem. Social media can be your best friend in times of crisis, so use it for good.

Editor’s Note:  A professional response to criticism is essential; however, individuals and groups that use social media to embarrass corporations, celebrities, non-for-profits, and governments should expect heat in reverse – if not from the party under attack then certainly from supporters and fans.   Both parties (not just the one being attacked) are subject to public scrutiny and criticism when social media is involved.  As in any conflict, if at all possible, solving disagreements in private is wisest.

~Natalie

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