Category Archives: Twitter

The 10 Most Popular Social Media Sites and Why They’re Successful

Humans are social by nature and the multitude of social media sites tries to meet that need. Their popularity is measured by the number of unique visitors that each site has each month. With so many sites what makes the top ten stand out from the crowd? Each site identifies a new way for the members to connect with each other and makes it as easy as possible for them to make that connection.

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

1. Facebook – The most popular site with an estimated 900 million unique visitors each month. This incredible popularity comes from the wide range of ways that users can share information and connect with other users. Facebook has also taken full advantage of APIs and allowed their users to embed external content on to their personal profiles.

2. Twitter – Short tweets have become big news with an estimated 310 million unique visitors each month. Twitter’s popularity is based on the immediacy of the internet. Users can post short updates about their lives and easily keep their followers up to date on their daily lives. The final component of Twitter’s success is the ability for users to follow their favorite celebrities and feel as if they have a small connection to these incredible people.

3. LinkedIn – This is the first social media site with a specific audience in mind. This site is dedicated to individuals looking for professional networking. LinkedIn gives its users ways to publish their skills for potential employers to find. There is also a feature which allows the users to ask for an introduction to individuals through a mutual contact. Asking for introductions creates a method of networking that very closely resembles networking in person.

4. Pinterest – Pinterest owes its popularity to focusing on one function and then performing that function extremely well. On top of doing that single function well it is also simple to use so that no one will be intimidated by complicated methods of sharing information. Pinterest also focuses on what its users want their lives to be in the future instead of what they are right now. The focus on future hopes and dreams provides another type of connection that other social media sides do not address as plainly as Pinterest does.

5. Google+ – Google+ allows the users to customize circles of connections who all share the same interests. It also allows users to stay connected through all the Google applications instead of only on the Google+ site. The strength of Google’s software also allows its users to have video chats with multiple people at the same time. Finally by building a strong profile on Google+ individuals are building up their Google authorship and increasing web traffic to other sites created by the same individual.

6. Tumblr – Tumblr represents a combination of the immediacy of Twitter with the informative nature of blogs. Users are given the strong connection that comes from blogs as well as a much more social aspect that comes from easily sharing information to other users. Users are able to create customized profiles to highlight their individuality in a more visual way above and beyond the content of the blog itself. One difference between Tumblr and other social media sites is that the content can be found by individuals who are not Tumblr users.

7. Instagram – Instagram capitalizes on the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Instagram is targeted at the millions of mobile users who enjoy taking and viewing pictures on their phones and tablets instead of a traditional computer. Instagram also focuses simply on the images themselves and provides a simple method for viewing beautiful pictures. Instagram also provides a simple way for users to share their pictures across many social media sites without having to upload the same picture multiple times.

8. Flickr – Instagram may focus on quickly sharing pictures Flickr allows users to better organize and display a large collection of images. Instead of searching through cluttered news feeds or unorganized albums pictures can be easily organized and shared. Above sharing beautiful images Flickr boasts a large collection of communities focused on all aspects of photography from specific locations to the color orange.

9. Vine – Vine allows users a platform to post their short looped videos with the immediacy of a Twitter news feed. The incredible popularity if this app has created many Vine celebrities who are able to tell their stories in seconds. Vine, like Instagram, has capitalized on the number of people using their phones as cameras and has given them a simple way to display their creativity to other mobile users.

10. YouTube – YouTube has long been a popular site to search for a wide range of information. With 100 hours of video posted each minute there is a wealth of information to be found. YouTube also appeals to the new trend of video logging which is similar to the traditional blog but using a visual medium. Now YouTube is taking steps to become more social by allowing users to post videos as comments and increase their interaction with others who are watching the same videos.

Knowing why each site is popular can help you know how information is shared and who it is shared with on each site. This knowledge will help you create social content that others will appreciate and share.

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Filed under Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Social Media, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, YouTube

Managing Brand-Consumer Relationships via Social Media, A Conversation with Miami University’s Dr. Glenn Platt

Image courtesy of @GlennPlatt

Social media relationships between brands and customers are connected to an important shift in marketing, putting word of mouth in the digital sphere and bringing brands into the conversation. According to Dr. Glenn Platt, professor of marketing and co-director of the Interactive Media Studies Program at Miami University, this change puts the focus on value and utility. He notes, “marketers are no longer in the job of selling the sizzle, but rather are about showing how there is value in that product. If you use this product it solves this problem. It makes your life better.” Social media helps facilitate that message by allowing customers and brands to connect with each other about that utility or value.

Developing the Relationship

Platt asserts that there are three important parts of a successful social media campaign—creating personal connections with the customer, showing them the utility of the product, and addressing customer service concerns. According to Platt, social media marketing is all about communicating what is best and most valuable about your brand in a way that connects with the customer’s life. “Your job is not to convince people that coffee cures cancer…Your job is to say ‘This is a really delicious cup of coffee.’ This is what it is and this is why it’s great” Platt says. “Marketers get kind of a bad rap for trying to convince people of things that are untrue, but for the social media marketer–that isn’t their job at all. Their job is to find the things that are most true about the brand and elevate them.”

A key facet of building the personal connection is addressing customer concerns. While there are plenty of stories about people who didn’t realize they were on their personal account and sent out inappropriate tweets, according to Platt, “Classic mistakes for social media marketers are not responding to your customers, responding poorly or defensively, not being authentic, or trying to mislead people.”

He says that social media has “almost become a 1-800 line for the brand” and in order to develop a strong relationship between customers and your brand, as well as a trustworthy presence in social media, it’s important to respond to your customers in a timely, helpful, and sincere manner.

Using the Right Platform

In addressing those customer concerns, not all platforms are equally useful. A visit to the Facebook page for the lifestyle subscription service Birchbox historically showed a litany of customer complaints and referral codes to a competing brand. While Birchbox didn’t delete any comments and quickly addressed them, their brand-related posts often have been overshadowed by complaints.

Platt suggests that Facebook is not a great platform for consumer-brand relationships because of the chronological nature of the site. In order to keep relevant posts fresher on the page, brands have to be selective about what gets posted: “Once you know that a company deletes Facebook posts you don’t trust them. It’s just game over. You can’t delete stuff, but you want to delete stuff.” He suggests that brands like Birchbox move customer concerns to a specific tab and publicly post that policy, as well as in a response to any posts not filtered under the tab function. A better move, however, would be to address customer service issues on Twitter. Platt notes that successful brands such as Best Buy and Comcast already have multiple Twitter accounts, some designated just for customer issues. “It’s not in their face, but it’s public, which is the important part,” he says. “You want people to say, ‘Look, I’m owning all my problems. I’m dealing with them. Here you can see I’ve solved problems and I’m not trying to push things under the rug.”

Connecting with Influencers

Aside from helpfully addressing customer concerns, to make the most of your efforts on social media, it is important to get the attention of influencers, the people who will help get your posts and your brand seen by more people. As explained by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, there are different types of influencers, too. The first type of influencer is an expert, someone who contacts and friends turn to for their expertise on a particular topic. The second type is a curator or maven, a person who finds and shares interesting products, articles, etc. and tends to accumulate a lot of information. The third kind of influencer is the connector, a people’s person who is good at connecting people to each other. For example, if you have a question, a connector might not know the answer, but probably knows someone who does and would send you his or her way.

Platt says that influencers can be identified through social media by looking at the ripple effects of posts and retweets, tracking how information spreads throughout a social network: “Some people look to social media influencers to see how large their networks are…People with more followers are probably going to have more influence than people with fewer followers.” An influencer can be a big name celebrity or expert or someone with a smaller, more local network, as long as their activity makes ripples in social media activity. Platt argues that while people with big social networks may have more reach, because there are anthropological studies that suggest that a community can only really have 150 members, it is important not to neglect influential people in smaller more local communities. For example, he points out that in his local community there is a Facebook group for mothers and certain members of that group have a lot of influence. When they post events or activities, their posts tend to have a big, tangible impact in the community.

There are a number of ways to get the attention of influencers on social media, from direct messages to sending samples or products. Because bloggers are required to disclose if they have been given a free product for review, however, Platt suggests that more subtle methods may be more effective. “People immediately are not going to trust it as much when they see that [free products were supplied],” he says, “even if it is an honest post.”

Instead, Platt thinks an effective method of getting influencers’ attention is communicating to them how your product or brand is valuable to them or their community: “The trick with influencers is to find those things that are true about your brand and find a way to get them in front of them. Like someone who’s an influencer in the mommy group here in Oxford, they genuinely would be grateful to know if there’s a kids eat free day at Bob Evans.[…]And so simply reach out and let them know that, finding ways to just make them aware, not pushing it, not making it look like you’re bribing them.”

The bottom line in creating a solid social media relationship is cultivating a trustworthy presence through honest answers to customer concerns and product marketing that meets customers where they are, showing how your product or page adds value to their experiences.  ~Kasey

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Filed under Facebook, Social Media, Twitter

What can we learn about marketing from CNBC’s marketing of The Profit?

Donald Trump. Mark Cuban.

Mr. Wonderful. 

Kevin oleary make up

In the last eight months, a new business teacher has emerged to entertain weary and wanna-be entrepreneurs.

Who is this new profit?

Marcus Lemonis- and his show, The Profit.  (Do you think the show’s name was purposeful?)

Lean in. We can certainly learn a lot about marketing from a network marketing machine trying to launch a new television show.

To start, watch CNBC’s The Profit.  It’s a newer show trying to build an audience in its second season.  At its start in August 2013, the show weighed in between 248,000 viewers and 254,000 viewers, but as of March 18, 2014, the audience grew to 415,000 in the 10 pm time slot thanks to the Worldwide Trailer Sales episode .

What has the series been doing to build its brand?

 

Airing Interesting Content

Piggy-backing off of the success of Shark Tank, the premise of The Profit is that accomplished businessman, Marcus Lemonis, can save failing businesses and ultimately generate profit, if current owners are willing to sell their majority shares for Lemonis’ infusions of cash, instruction, and hard work.  The Profit’s Worldwide Trailer Sales episode, for example, while controversial, ranked well with general audiences because it was a lesson in what not to do in business– don’t air dirty laundry in front of co-workers and employees.

The Profit team also delivers related business insights and advice via video and articles through the show’s CNBC web site.

Knowing your niche and casting stories that are interesting and insightful are integral components to success.  If you sell a service or a product, focus on delivering the best possible quality product.  Hire a team that understands how to deliver the type of content that’s needed for each channel. You can drive segmented audience traffic to your website or store, if you deliver a story that’s relevant, engaging, and right-sized for your customers.

I once had a college professor spilt our class into thirds.  Some of us were producers and had to conjure up show names and premises.  Some of us were advertisers trying to decide where we wanted to place our advertising, and the rest were sales people.  All of us voted on what shows we would want to watch.

The lesson?  In a public university college class, the most outrageous titles always won the popular vote and usually those had to do with sex, models, and alcohol.  Nice, straight-forward, and generally wholesome programming usually bombed.  Advertisers soon learned that they had to weigh exposure to more viewers against their brand’s image and associations.  Sales people didn’t want to get stuck selling low-rated shows to advertisers, so they pitched work more often with those producers who had a string of titles that resonated with audiences.  I learned that what I thought would go over big (nice, educational shows) didn’t and, in looking back, some of the voting was probably influenced by certain frats hosting the party that night.  The content has to fit the audience and be justified with numbers.

When I saw the Worldwide Trailer Sales Inc episode of The Profit, I had déjà vu.  That crazy episode- with the foul language and bad behavior, had all the makings of a winner in the ratings.

 

Real-Time Engagement on Social Media

So, after the show, @marcuslemonis stayed an hour longer to tweet with fans.  Without ruining the show for you (because it ends rather abruptly), this technique helped viewers to sort through reactions. What a great idea!  Use social media to start, clarify, or end conversations.  How?  Create a video or blog post about your service or product.  Then, expand upon the conversation in another channel.  Ask viewers to migrate there with you.  You’ll influence search, loyalty, and engagement with this technique.

Producers of the Profit received some decent feedback about the March 18, 2014 show and I suspect a sequel to the Worldwide Trailers episode was even discussed.  If not, the feedback was valuable for fine-tuning Season 3 criteria and upcoming episodes.  Test the market place for your product or service with feedback obtained from social media.

If anything, Twitter gave Lemonis the opportunity to share feelings and thoughts about the show.  He worked on developing relationships with his emerging fan base.The profit tweets

Lemonis uses his Twitter account to promote upcoming shows and to build his personal brand.  He asks for entries for The Profit’s next casting season and promotes contests that give fans chances to ask him questions and to meet him for lunch.

Is your CEO using Twitter to rally the troops and to promote your brand?

 

Create Memes

The Profit Facebook page employs another search marketing tactic.  It features memes.The profit meme

Take professional pictures of scenes from your story and add wording to those pictures to create memes or info-graphics that link to your website. People are more likely to share pictures and those shares- especially on G+ and Facebook can influence search engine results.  Pinners are even creating boards with sayings from the show!

What are your company’s sayings?  Take snippets of the CEO’s best speeches, add them to pictures, and ask the team to pin ‘em.

Lemonis and The Profit are also on Zeebox.  What’s Zeebox? It’s a place where TV fans go to hang-out with cast members and fans of their favorite shows.  The conversations in these micro-communities give producers feedback and insights, while feeding additional information to fans.

 

Create Videos

The Profit shares about ten full-length episodes on its website. It then breaks those videos into smaller tidbits with inserts of business advice from Lemonis.  You can do this, too.  What is your company’s story?  Its mission?  What does it do well?  Educate your customers, your employees, or your partners with a YouTube channel filled with useful videos.

 

Cross Promote other Channels

If you own other properties or are in relationships with partners, promote each other.

Lemonis tweets to Shark Tank investors, interviews with CNBC, and appears on CNBC’s Power Lunch.  The Profit even sponsored a Nascar raceLemonis is also visible promoting the show with interviews like this one with the HuffPost. Stories and interviews are cropping up on blogs like Inc., My Web Writers, and Ken McCarthy.

The result?  More exposure.

Growing ratings.

Increased profits for the companies vested in the show.

 

Marketing Take-Aways

What can you learn from the marketing of CNBC’s new show, The Profit?

  1. Know who you are and what you want to say to customers.
  2. Promote your mission in sound bites and actions through tweets, posts, memes, and videos.
  3. Be available. Stay engaged with customers.
  4. Cross promote. Find like-minded partners and help each other by interviewing and promoting each other.
  5. Provide relevant content that your niche will actually want to digest and share.

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Facebook, Google Plus, Infographics & Memes, Marketing, Pinterest, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Social Media contests, Twitter

DeGeneres Crashes Twitter the Wrong Oscars Headline

Oscars Group Selfie Sets Twitter Record

Oscars Group Selfie Sets Twitter Record

What was the big headline from the 2014 Oscars telecast?  “Ellen DeGeneres Broke Twitter.”  That’s not the best headline.  Instead, the big headline from the Academy Awards should have been, “Ellen DeGeneres Proves Power of Social Media.”  Millions played a part acting to support the lesson and promote multiple brands worldwide.

Midway through the show, the Oscars hostess walked down an aisle of stars and asked actor Bradley Cooper to take a selfie with her.  As they both crouched in front of Cooper’s extended arm, several other stars sitting nearby quickly crowded around Cooper and DeGeneres.  In a matter of seconds, the group photo, including Kevin Spacey,  Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie.  It was about to go viral on Twitter and be seen by millions.

A few moments later, DeGeneres uttered what the social media world had already known as their Twitter feeds froze for twenty minutes due to all the retweet activity.  “We crashed and broke Twitter.  We made history.”

Former Obama Record Retweet

Former Obama Record Retweet

Before the end of the broadcast, the star-studded group selfie had been retweeted over 2 million times, breaking a record of 781,728 retweets set by President Barack Obama with the picture of him hugging First Lady, Michelle Obama, after his 2012 re-election.

Which brands were the beneficiaries from this comic interlude? 

Of course, Twitter scored big.  The short message service specializing in 140-character bursts of thought proved it is not all about words.  It was the photo that generated the activity proving there are many ways to send a message others would be interested in receiving.

Samsung Electronics Corp. enjoyed the value of product placement as it was their electronic device that snapped the picture of the moment.  Their One Samsung advertising deal with ABC television included an agreement to take ten promoted tweet selfies in the green room at The Oscars and send them to the world.

Obviously, Ellen DeGeneres bolstered her brand image and savvy know-how of social media use.  Her @TheEllenShow Twitter account grew by a 47x factor the day of the Oscars broadcast compared to an average day and now boasts 27 million followers.

Finally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences proved it was hip to a new generation of social media users.  After the brief Twitter outage, when services were restored, @TheAcademy sent a tweet of their own saying, “Sorry, our bad.”  It generated 4,211 retweets.

What should your brand learn? 

Watching advertising’s best on the big stage can provide your business with a few takeaways:

  • Create memorable moments.  What unique photo or situation can you create that will be fun to share and get people talking about your brand?  Mix words about your brand, with images and video.

  • Plant your product strategically.  Let your product or service be seen by others so they can interact with it and comment on it.  A paid placement sponsorship or a few product giveaways cannot hurt.

  • Get involved with social media.  It’s new.  It’s a bit untested and wild west.  It’s here to stay.  If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences can be trendy after being in business for 86 years, so can you.

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Filed under Audience, Content Marketing, Marketing, Social Media, The Writing Process, Twitter

How to Create a Hot Holiday Buzz for Your Business

By My Web WritersChristmas present

It’s that time of year! Get ready to have your inbox and newsfeed filled with holiday promotions of all shapes and sizes. It’s a marketing bandwagon worth jumping on because the holidays are when your customers are most likely to act on impulse and splurge more than the usual. But how do you go about creating a hot holiday buzz that will command attention and motivate action? Here are the top 5 tips to helps get your started!

Make your product or service relevant.

You should carefully select the product or service you’re promoting based on what is relevant to your customers’ wants this time of year. For example, a salon that runs a sale on its summer lipstick line isn’t going to connect with its customers. It may be tempting to promote the product that you want to move or offers you the biggest margins, but this won’t connect with your audience. Instead, pick a promotion that “makes sense” for the holidays. Put together a holiday gift set that is packaged and priced perfectly for a small gift for a loved one. Or offer a special on a service that is most likely to help your customers this time of year. Whatever you choose, first ask yourself, “Is this relevant?”

Build excitement.

You should decide on your promotion at least two months in advance of the holidays. This will give you enough time to build excitement with your customer base. Give them a sneak preview on Facebook or allude to the “very special holiday promotion” to come in your next newsletter. Prime your customers to be on the lookout for this exciting deal and then be sure to deliver!

Create incentive.

In order to create an effective holiday buzz for your business, your promotion or sale should offer an incentive (or benefit) for your customers to buy now. Set a limit on how long the offer will last. Will it expire on a certain date? Will it close after enough offers are claimed? Creating scarcity will help to create a buzz. It will also make customers prioritize your offer as urgent and motivate them to act now.

Make it more than an afterthought.

The more thought you put into creating a holiday promotion, the more business you’re likely to get out of it. From mid October through the holidays, your core marketing focus should be on positioning yourself to capture holiday business. Sure, these are busy times for everyone, but don’t get distracted or split your marketing efforts by announcing other news to your customers at this time. All of your communications should tie back to your holiday promotion.

Spread the word!

You’ve gone through the effort of creating a promotion, now you must market it across every communication outlet to make it truly effective. The biggest mistake many businesses make is running a promotion, but forgetting to inform their customers. Create articles for content marketing and circulate them via Google Plus, Facebook, or Twitter to segmented audiences. Use your web site, newsletter, press releases, other social media niches, blog, and anything else to spread a consistent message. Create a signature graphic for this deal that you can also place on all of these pages. We are visual people, so the more we see the offer the more likely we are to remember it when it comes time to gift buying.

The holidays are a time to both give and receive – for businesses as well! By giving a great deal and a little extra to your customers, you are more likely to receive their business in return. But simply running a holiday promotion won’t have people lining up at your door, proper placement and marketing is key. Try out these top 5 tips to help create a hot holiday buzz for your business this winter season!

~Stephanie


Other Posts:

12 Steps to Create Your Own Infographic

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

Social Media Interaction in 2014- What’s your Plan?

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Email Campaigns, Facebook, Google Plus, Holiday Blog, Marketing, Newsletters, Press Release Writing, Social Media, Twitter

Snow White and the Social Media Personas

By My Web Writers

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Wake up dwarfs. The evil queen has been collecting information for your persona and now she’s creating content to influence dwarfs just like you.  How did she learn so much about your little home in the woods and your whistling while you work?  Was it the mirror or the little birds who told her?

Actually, it was you.  Your sleepy blog posts, doc TV comments, grumpy G+ rants, and bashful LinkedIn profile updates have been noticed.

Now, she knows what she needs to do to deliver the apple to Snow White.

Build Personas with the Help of Social Media

If you’re tasked with finding your brand’s personas, but your company can’t or won’t interview customers, social media can help.  Look at internal data, identify key customers, and start searching for information via Google Plus, Bing, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube.  If customers are talking about themselves online, it’s fair game for companies to use that information.

Ardath Albee, a B2B marketer, content strategist, and author of Up Close & Persona says,

“What you find is that some of the people you may be after actually write their own blogs, or they’ll divulge things about the job that they do that can really help you understand, not only orientation and objectives, but also some obstacles that could get in the way. You know, I mean the things people will share on social media are very important.

So, the three categories that I focus on with personas are objectives, orientation and then obstacles. Obstacles means what could derail the deal for that person or that persona. So, what could stop it in its tracks. And the reason why I really take a look at that is because if you can eliminate some of that stuff before sales gets in the conversation, it’s going to just keep momentum moving faster and shorten time to close for that account.”

With the information gathered, your  marketing manager identifies the personas’ buying stages and the questions each persona typically asks before feeling comfortable moving from one stage to the next.  Your content is crafted to meet each persona at each stage of the sales funnel to help transition a prospect into a customer.  These various content pieces are then placed where prospects are likely to be on the journey, in order to move them toward purchases.

Personas Marching Into the Dark Forest of Social Media

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Some SEO and social outreach companies create networks of personas (niche accounts) on major social media networks to connect, on behalf of their clients, with industry influencers and publishers.  These networks distribute client content to customer influencers.  Some SEO companies build niche blogs that are dedicated to hosting their persona guest posts.  Guest articles, created by persona writers, regularly appear on these blogs with the sole purpose of linking to client websites, while looking pretty natural.

Megan Brown of iAcquire writes that a profile is:

  • An authentic representation of the team member
  • Focused on a certain audience in an organic way that does not.
  • Owned by the SEO agency or client (up to you), not the team member
  • Entertaining and interesting
  • Serves as a place to focus on common ground to create stronger relationships with influencers and audiences

What it is/does NOT:

  • Fraudulent, make-believe, deceptive
  • A copy of the team member’s or someone else’s profile
  • Containing words/phrases/photos that are not legally property of the client, SEO agency or team member personally
  • A soapbox for a team member promote personal causes or interests
  • A duplicate any of the content in any other personal or persona profiles that the team member may manage

However, let’s call a spade a spade. What exactly is an authentic representation of the team member?  While each persona might match a segment of the team member’s personality, it exists for the sole purpose of moving client customers through sales funnels. These accounts wouldn’t exist without a monetary purpose behind them.

Brown’s earlier post says that this particular SEO company and its management team have,

had plenty of experience link building with personas… Every team member’s goal, no matter the vertical, is to establish his or her persona account as a thought leader or influencer in that vertical. This will have publishers or other influencers coming to you for content or ideas as well as enable you to drive action and sharing of content.

Be Snow White and wary of the gray.  Google is after spam networks.  You’re safe to create persona profiles and content for your target segments, but setting up many alternative accounts to distribute content might result in a hapless journey through the woods.

~Jean


Other Posts:

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

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Clever Conference Presentation Openings

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Filed under Personas, Social Media, Twitter

7 Strategic Tips for Better Competitive Listening on Social Media

By My Web Writers

Establishing an explicit social media strategy is important for your business or brand’s social marketing tactics to be effective and productive. Incorporating competitive listening as part of that social media strategy is advantageous for several reasons.

First, listening is ongoing. The internet and blogosphere are both always changing and social listening gives your brand a competitive edge.

Furthermore, it helps you understand your customers (the target of your social media strategy!), and also stakeholders, as well as potential target demographics or other types of opportunities for growth.

Evaluate whether the following tips are implicitly or explicitly incorporated into your current social strategy and identify areas for strategic competitive growth in social marketing.

  1. Tune in to trends. Listen and track search behaviors over time to develop a better understanding of seasonality in your target demographic. Free tools such as Google Trends and Tweet Volume can help you gain an appreciation for what is in important as well as when it matters for the groups you are targeting.
  2. Follow competitors on Social Media. Set up lists on Twitter, Circles on Google+, even separate lists on Facebook and various blog rings with your competitors’ social media. See what appears to be working for them and do recon with tools like SpyFu.
  3. Understand where your target audience lives onlineQuantcast asserts that the majority of Tumblr users are under 34.  If your brand is targeting Baby Boomers for time shares in the Poconos, you probably aren’t listening competitively or strategically if you have Tumblr as part of your social marketing strategy.
  4. Understand who your influencers are. Ben Straley, CEO of Meteor Solutions, researched and reported that “the type of friends, fans and followers a brand amasses on social media sites matters more than the number. On average, approximately 1% of a site’s audience generates 20% of all its traffic through sharing of the brand’s content or site links with others.”  Furthermore, a Forrester research report showed that the minority of users generates around 80% of the impressions and influence posts.  Promote your influencers even more. Make them famous.

  1. Save targeted hashtags for industry specific keywords or events. Watch how people talk about you, your brand, your products and/or services as well as keeping an eye on topics of interest among industry professionals. You never want to be the last to know about anything relevant to your industry or profession.
  2. Highlight in your social business strategy the need to dial in on “relevancy and reputation management.” You can even use those words. Be sure pertinent employees and contractors understand that is a critical focus and hone in on the other strategic methods for maintaining both aspects. In order to do this, Social Media Examiner recommends starting a virtual task force to share information that is learned.  Have conversations around best practices and negatives.
  3. Use your own Site Analytics in conjunction with consumer keywords. Just because you operate a “pre-owned vehicle” dealership doesn’t mean that most of your target audience is searched “pre-owned vehicle.” A competitive listening strategy would uncover that the majority of searches for that type of item are from consumers typing in “used car,” even if you’d never use the term yourself.

For further solutions, Ken Burbary compiled a wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions that you can peruse to plug in and practice competitive social listening.  Remember, understanding various social media strategies is part of your social business strategy, and reading fun and insightful blogs across the social media industry is a legitimate use of your work hours – you’re listening competitively. ~Sara

See Also:

5 Ways to Write Content on a Shoe-String Budget

Social Networking for Business:; Success Stories from Three Brands

Is Your e-Store Prepared for Summer Shoppers?

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Filed under Business Strategy, Social Media, Twitter