Blog: Social Media Tips
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Recently, we offered the opportunity for our “Insider’s Only” email subscribers to join us in a very limited group of “testers.” The folks were asked to sign up to participate in an Instagram contest that begins next week and includes a prize and potential fame! Behind the scenes we are testing a few tools and applications for Instagram, and we’ll tell you about those later. But, we limited the group to only 12 first responders in order to keep a very close eye on the tools we want to test. Now, we need the help of our blog readers.
Beginning Monday, June 24th and running through Sunday, June 30th, we will be posting a photo array on Polka Dot Impressions’ Facebook Page as part of our regular “Theme Week” feature, and we need as many Voters as we can get. The photo array will be posted by 9 a.m. (CST) every morning, and all we ask is that you look at the picture each day and vote for your favorite interpretation of a daily theme.
Of course, we invite you to become a Fan of our Page while you’re there, but you don’t have to. This is really about your vote. At the end of the week, we will reveal an Instagrammer winner and the Instagram accounts of those who have been playing along, and we hope you’ll be inspired by what you see. That’s it!
Spread the word, and get ready to have an opinion on your favorite image!
(P.S. It is very likely that we will do this again, so be sure to get on our Insider’s List if you enjoy this kind of thing on social media!)
Hashtags have been all the rage these days now that Facebook has incorporated their use into their platform. Hashtags have been around on other platforms for a while, but what’s new is that you can use them on Facebook and expect to get searchable results now, too. Therein lies the key to hashtags – on every social media network. They are all about the search. They give context, or assign topics, to your social posts. If you only understand one thing about these handy little tools, what you need to remember is that they allow you to add an extra layer of search definition to your online activity.
Let’s look at a few truths about hashtags.
- #DifferentResults – If you do a search on Twitter or Google, for instance, you will get different results depending on whether or not you use a hashtag. That will now be true on Facebook, too. (Many speculate that this addition on Facebook is because of Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012. Instagrammers’ rampant use of hashtags was seen as a marketing venue not previously taken advantage of, and Facebook wanted in on it. Marketers will most likely be able to target by hashtags on their Facebook Ads.)
- #MagnetizedContent – Hashtag search results are narrower in scope as a rule, which is often what you are looking for when you are trying to do an online search. The more precise the hashtag, the more filtered your search results will be. I often describe hashtags as “magnets” that pull specific content to you by topic, based on the terms used. Hashtags “magnetize” the precise content you’re trying to narrow down.
- #FewerRules – Hashtags can be added to a single word/term (#pdi) or to a string of words (#polkadotimpressions). Notice that there are no spaces and that capitalization is not necessary. However, if you want to emphasize the different words making it easier for everyone to read, use upper and lower case letters (#PolkaDotImpressions). That will not change the search results that come up, but it will make it significantly easier for others to read your hashtags.
- #HumorCounts – Ideally, hashtags would be short or fairly simple, and you should try to avoid overusing them on a single social media post, unless you are using a hashtag to be clever or silly. And that may be the other way that you will occasionally see hashtags being used. For instance, #WhatAreAllTheseRidiculousThingsDoingOnMyFacebookFeedAnyway is an example of a hashtag used in an attempt at humor, and probably one that you’ve already seen on Facebook!
Let’s go one step further looking at hashtags. As a business leader or marketer, you may want to begin using hashtags in your professional or personal posts on your social networks. This allows you to “define” the topic of your post so that you can search for it later to revisit that conversation. More importantly, it also allows your conversation to be searchable by others. This has obvious key word marketing and branding implications. Social media lovers and marketers alike have jumped on the hashtag bandwagon and the more searchable their social content, the better off they are.
But all of this assumes that the average user of social media, your potential customers and prospects, will begin searching with hashtags. There are still plenty of Twitter users who don’t use any hashtags at all, and the feature is relatively new on Google+ and now Facebook. So the question must be raised, will people begin using hashtags in great abundance to do their online searches?
Some social media trends don’t seem to take off, but hashtags will likely be a different scenario. With the addition of hashtags to the world’s largest social media network, they will be difficult to avoid seeing. The more comfortable someone is with how to use a hashtag, and with the abundance of information available online, it is likely that even the most reluctant hashtag user will not only begin to use them, but use them in their online searches in order to filter out some of the less relevant content that tends to get in the way of good search results. The truth about hashtags is that we all need to filter out unnecessary content and magnetize the best information, so hashtags are something with which you need to get comfortable.
When a business takes to social media, the goal is always to build revenue and brand awareness. You will always be building brand awareness and your business reputation, good or bad, depending on your use of social media, but it’s understood that the goal is to increase profits. Even businesses that aren’t on social networks are in the business to increase profits. But as we’ve discussed before, there should always be goals involved.
To further those goals, most business marketers begin their social media posting hoping for attention, hoping for Fans and Followers. But once you begin building those Fans and Followers, you have to think about what you want them to do with each post you make. Is it just about engagement? Or, does the type of engagement matter? All engagement is good engagement in social media in the sense that engagement means people are talking about, and with, your brand. Hopefully they are saying nice things, too! Either way, you have a dynamic, real-time opportunity to interact and build positive customer relations with your Fans and Followers. You do this by posting relevant, engaging, meaningful, valuable content that others will take action on. But what action?
We put together this little chart to describe the differences to your brand when your posts receive engagement. How does it help your brand? Take a look at these examples and see if you don’t agree. All engagement is good, it’s what social media marketers strive for, but not all engagement is equal!
If you would like to share this Infographic, you can find the original image HERE.
Facebook has done something sneaky again for the personal user on Facebook. You may or may not have noticed it, but regardless of your settings, it seems your Chat feature has been turned “on.” Facebook will keep turning it on, too. It keeps defaulting to “on” whether you want it to or not. So, the question becomes, should I be chatting on Facebook?
You certainly can, and lots of folks do. For those of you who love to use the Chat feature, which, by the way has been reemphasized with Text based Hangouts on the recent G+ changes, this is probably a welcome change. You won’t miss any of the important messages from people you want to stay in touch with. And, you don’t have to remember to turn it off or on.
However, for those of us who find Chat interrupting, this is not a welcomed change. When Chat is turned off on Facebook, people can still send you messages. They will go to your “Messages” Inbox if you are Friends with that person, and “Other” if not. So in practice, you don’t miss any of these messages either, as long as you remember to check for them. (This is very easy to do if you use a Smartphone and choose to download the “Message” app. You can set up Notifications within the app to stay up-to-date.)
But how do you deal with the sneaky tactics of Facebook on this one? Personally, I don’t want to have my Chat alert going off all the time. It interrupts my flow of work and creative thought. I do check my messages regularly, but on my time schedule. The answer to this problem is to get sneaky back. Here’s a little trick you might want to use if this Chat On feature is bothersome to you.
- In the Chat window on your lower-right hand side of Facebook, click on the “Options” wheel.
- Then, click on “Advanced Settings.”
- Click the bubble next to, “Turn on chat for only some friends…”
- In the box, add the names of only the friends you wish to be available to in real-time. For me, for instance, I entered the names of only my immediate family.
- Save your entry, and Viola! You’re done.
(Note: Prior to creating this “private chat group,” I had repeatedly selected “Turn chat off” only to find that it would be turned back on the next time I logged in, thus, the need for a sneaky workaround.)
When you do this, you will be able to get Chat messages from anyone that you have entered into that field, but all of the others will go to your Messages Inbox for you to respond to at a convenient time!
We’d love to hear from you if you have questions about other Facebook issues like this one. Let us know how we can help you.
Social media networks are so very different. Each has a distinct set of characteristics, reasons why some folks use it and others do not, and best practices for marketing tactics. If you employ one strategy across all networks, or automate your posts from one platform across others, you will find that your results diminish on some networks. Therefore, it is very important for each business marketer to determine how and why they will strategically use each social network. Your brand reputation and character are at stake.
To demonstrate this, we pared down the distinct purpose we employ for each of our social media networks to a single sentence. This is not a new idea, but it is a great way to strategically focus your social media marketing efforts. It also helps to affirm that you are on task with your posting strategy and desired outcomes. We would encourage you to take some time to assess your marketing strategy across the different platforms.
To begin this process, think about your core values for your business. Ours can be summarized in that we use social media to create strategic impressions with engaging content in ways that build integrity, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction on behalf of our clients. We use a polka-dotted umbrella as our logo to describe this process. Each “dot” of the umbrella is a piece of the impression we are building. On its own, a dot is just a circle. However, in combination with strategic patterning, these dots form polka dots (the brand impressions) for the businesses that we have the privilege to serve. We use the same “umbrella building” process for Polka Dot Impressions.
Now that you understand what we mean when we use the terms “polka dots” and “umbrella,” take a look at our version of “Social Media Explained.” Then, visit our individual social media networks to see how we implement these strategies. But don’t stop there. Take the time to develop your own intentional purposes for each social network. Let us know how we can help you develop a strategic plan to enhance your social media efforts.
Polka Dot Impressions is happy to announce that our team is officially expanding. In the past, we’ve been able to share some of the wisdom of Frankie Rodriquez in a consulting or limited availability capacity, but as of this month, he will be a permanent fixture on our team. He brings with him a great deal of knowledge and business experience covering radio broadcasting, marketing, healthcare management, and non-profit industries, so this is quite a “feather in our cap.”
You can view the full Press Release HERE, but we encourage you to welcome him to the team. You may “see him around” through our social networks, and you will continue to receive his input in our blogs. If you would like to reach him directly with your social media questions, you can do so via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome aboard, Frankie!
If you have been following Polka Dot Impressions for any length of time, then you will recognize one of our fundamental social media best practices: You don’t have to be on every social network. It’s better to operate a few social networks well, than a lot of them poorly. To that end, it is only very recently that we have begun to experiment with Instagram. It’s been around since 2010, and was acquired by Facebook in 2012, but proportionately, very few businesses have jumped on Instagram for their social media marketing. Why is that? Or, perhaps the better question is, why should a business use Instagram anyway?
Here are 4 benefits of Instagram that might make it a good fit for your business
1. Instagram is visual marketing. It’s all about the pictures, and pictures are emotional. In most cases, so are sales. No matter what type of “widget” you need, you are much more likely to buy/rent/hire/contract for a widget through a company that you “feel” good about. Pictures help to create the feelings, mood, and emotions of what it feels like to do business with you or what it feels like to use your products and services. These emotions can drive inquiries or even sales.
2. Instagram builds trust. The pictures shared on Instagram usually go way beyond pictures of just the products. While you are creating those emotions, the pictures tend to take on a behind-the-scenes feel to your business. When someone looks at your Instagram feed, they get a sense of what you’re all about, and that helps them to feel like they already know you when they seek you out in business.
3. Instagram creates impressions. The emotions and familiarity you build with your images create an overall impression of your core values. This is one of the hardest things to “brand” under normal circumstances with social media. With Instagram, however, your core values can be represented over and over again in images. Even if you never articulate your core values by name, the images that you create can create the impressions of your brand over time.
4. Instagram is less chatty. That’s not to say that you should ignore the basic rules of social media engagement, but you don’t have to have a lot of description in your posts, nor do you need to expect a lot of back-and-forth conversation. The most common activity on Instagram is giving a “Like” to an image, but there is a “Comment” button as well. Brands and businesses should think “networking” not social banter when they interact with others on Instagram.
Now that you understand these 4 reasons why you might want to put yourself on Instagram as a business, what should your strategy be?
- At the most basic level, create an over-arching impression of your business through branding and creating emotions. Think about the reasons that you love what you do, and convey those reasons and core values in images and actions.
- Post regularly, even daily if you can. Remember, you can always capture those activities that happen out of the customer’s view. Would your business be a fun or inspiring place to work? Show that in pictures.
- Think emotionally and artistically with your images. There are lots of built-in filters to use to experiment with your pictures, and there are many apps for enhancing Instagram images. Anyone can take creative and compelling images with these readily available tools.
- Use hashtags. Like Twitter, Instagram is searchable by hashtags (and users), so make good use of hashtags and think “fun” when you do. What would someone look for if they were doing the search that your picture might represent? Use your imagination here. Instagram hashtags are a little more creative. Try searching a few things yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.
Give it a try, and I’d love for you to add your Instagram account in the comments below so that we can see what you do with your brand! Mine is http://instagram.com/camillerodriquez. See you there!
 There is nothing wrong with creating your brand or business profile on a variety of networks in order to capture your unique business name and URL on that network, but that doesn’t mean you have to actively post and manage each one. Be sure to include your primary contact information on each of the profiles, but be strategic about where you invest your time and energy creating social communities.
You’ve heard the real estate phrase, “It’s a seller’s market,” or “It’s a buyer’s market,” right? When it comes to social media, it’s a consumer’s market. Let’s take a look at what that means for your business, because the implications of this are going to be long-lasting and affect your bottom line for quite some time.
Yes, some consumers still make impulse purchases. It happens. Emotions still play a part in sales. However, with the exception of a few industries, most business owners are finding it harder and harder to get the attention of prospective consumers. That’s the first reason that it’s a consumer’s market. There are more choices, more competitive pricing, and more companies offering exactly what you’re offering. That’s good for consumers, but not as good for you, the business leader or sales person. Social media only magnifies the opportunities for consumers to access products and services that they need or want.
That leads us to the second point. When a prospective customer arrives at your storefront, whether virtual or physical, they are better educated in most cases. They have done some research on the products, or they have had some exposure to products like them, and they have a better understanding of what they want or need. That does not always mean that they have a complete understanding of how to maximize the products or services you offer, but they are likely to have a better knowledge base about the topic than you might expect. For you, this means that you can no longer operate out of a “try it, you’ll like it” mentality. But through social media, you have an opportunity to be a part of the research that consumers do by addressing more than just pictures of your products. You can address applications, tips, “how to’s,” strategies, and more. This lays the groundwork for more informed questions that consumers will have when they do visit you, resulting in more satisfied customers when they make the purchase.
But the final reason that social media has turned marketing into a consumer’s market is that the entire character of your business – your integrity, your follow-through, the quality of your services or products – it’s all online. Consumers go to social media when they want to talk about a great (hopefully!) or a poor experience, and these opinions become the dynamic referrals that drive the confirmation of the research that they’re already doing. For instance, if a prospective customer does a lot of looking around online at a particular service and your business comes up favorably in their research or shows up on the Facebook walls of people they know, then they are more likely to consider your services. However, if your business comes up with negative feedback over and over again, or if it doesn’t come up at all, then they are likely to spend more time looking at the businesses whose services are mentioned in their social research. This “social research” is a powerful tool in the consumers shopping arsenal, and it cannot be overlooked in marketing today.
So an important question for business owners is, “How valuable is it to have an active presence in social media networking sites,” based on a consumer’s likelihood for doing social research even if there is not an immediate return on the investment of time or money? In a fewer number of cases, social media can be directly tied to a return on investment (ROI), but in most cases, the ROI of social media marketing is indirect. Is there still value in it? Remember, this is a consumer’s market.
As a business owner, you will have to decide this for yourself, but it is not likely that the market will become any less of a consumer’s market over time – not with the ever-growing networks and places for social media marketing to occur.
If your business has a presence on social media it is essential to practice risk management. Traditionally when one thinks of risk management in business one thinks of policies and procedures in place to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace, safety during natural disasters, protection from fraud and theft, protection from sexual harassment litigation, credit risks and confidentiality/privacy compliance. Those areas of risk management apply in social media as well. But social media also presents an unusual area to be vigilant about risk management.
The nature of social media in business is to engage with the people who post or respond to the business’ posts. “Likes” and “Shares” pose little, if any, risk management problem. Comments are 999 times out of 1,000 no threat to risk management. However, occasionally you might get a comment from someone who is compelling to respond to and tempting to try to fix. For example,
- “I really like that quote, because I haven’t been happy for some time. This is one of those mornings. I don’t want to be living. But, thanks for trying.”
- “I don’t agree that things are looking up. I’ve been out of work for a year and a half. Nobody will hire me. I can’t even get hired at a coffee shop. My wife and kids have left me. Nobody would notice if I wasn’t here anymore.”
- “What do you mean it’s a wonderful day? My husband was drunk and pushed me again last night. What’s wonderful about today?”
You’re thinking, “But my posts are about our product!” That may be true, but there is the occasional post prompted by something in the cultural context in which we live. (“Happy New Year! “Where do you go to be in your ‘happy place’?”, etc.) The person creating your content may not have the intention of soliciting dire responses. But it happens!
And, if your social media manager is like most civil folk she or he might feel compelled to offer “help”. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do? This is when your risk management policies should kick in.
Even if your social media manager happens to be a licensed psychotherapist, you should have specific, detailed and clear policies that prohibit the manager from offering any advice, counsel, a shoulder to cry on, or sharing similar life experiences. In fact, the less said in the response, the less vulnerable you and your business will be to the interpretation of the commenter.
You see, the risk in these seemingly innocuous posts is that you have no control on how the commenter will interpret your business’ response. Even with a psychotherapy shingle hanging on your wall, the Internet is not a therapy session.
So here are a couple of tips:
1) Pay your business attorney to draft a comment for every such interactive situation you encounter.
2) Require your social media manager to use that response.
3) Do not allow your social media manager to add to or enhance the policy-driven response.
4) Monitor comments from others who might want to “help”. Even though they have no affiliation, they are on your site, and could be interpreted as your approved advice.
5) Be polite, but use as few words as possible.
6) Encourage the commenter to seek professional resources. This is critical.
Do not fool yourself into thinking, “I’m only trying to help.” Social media and the Internet are not covered by the Good Samaritan laws. And there are some folk who believe everything they read on the World Wide Web, especially if it comes from a very official site—like your business!
No one would argue that marketing a business is optional these days, but many would debate the methods. The methods and the success stories vary from industry to industry, but is social media one of the successful methods of marketing? A recent survey by Manta, outlined in USA Today, came to the conclusion that “social media is a bust for small businesses.” But when a closer look is taken at the conclusions, some interesting assessments can be made.
According to this survey, some of those goals are as follows:
- 36% want to acquire new customers,
- 19% are hoping to increase leads and referrals, and
- 17% are trying to increase awareness.
The USA Today article doesn’t address the goals of the other 28%, but we would suspicion that they may not have set any goals in the first place.
The first step in any marketing campaign is setting goals. We have said that before. Every business wants to make more money – that’s a given, not a goal. Marketing’s end result is always making money, but it does so by setting measurable goals upon which to focus the marketing. That’s where the biggest misunderstanding with social media marketing comes in. Many business owners set up social profiles but don’t understand specific goal setting with the medium. The mistaken assumption is that if they just get the social media profiles in place, business will increase. It’s not that easy.
Pam Springer, CEO of Manta, suggests that if the marketing is not earning a return, then perhaps the business owner is either not setting up an effective campaign or giving up too fast. The USA Today article quotes her as saying, “They have a high propensity to become maybe not as patient as they should be. The attitude becomes “I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t have enough time. It’s intimidating to me.”
That leads us to the second step in social media marketing – consistency of purpose. Assuming that effective goals have been set, and that the business leader understands how to maximize the specific social networks, they must then implement these plans strategically, consistently, and repeatedly. That takes time and effort. Business owners are often too busy running the business to understand all of the tactics and tools involved, which in social media, can change overnight.
The strategic and unique nature of each social network has to address the “human factor.” Social media is full of people. They are there to play, to be entertained, to be inspired, etc., but they are not necessarily there to be marketed to. The challenge to a business owner is to “insert” the business into the social lives of Fans and Followers in a way that goes beyond traditional marketing. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it has to be inspired and driven by human interaction.
Social media marketing works best in conjunction with other sources of content. Blogs and websites, for instance, are perfectly appropriate places for the traditional sales pitch, but social media is a better place to practice the human element. Consider how your business can set realistic goals with social media, centered on the human element, and then implement, implement, implement. Unlike a website which is generally created once and only updated slightly over time, social media serves an ever-fluctuating human audience that thrives on regular and repeated interaction.