In my career, I have interviewed hundreds of people. They all had brilliant ideas and fascinating things to say about doing business in a social media world.
Here are some of the best tips and thoughts they have shared with me.
What are some of the most basic steps a company should take before launching a social media campaign?
1. Design a social media strategy to complement the overall corporate strategy rather than exist on its own
2. Be very clear with objectives, how to measure them, who will be accountable, and track progess
3. Assume that not everything will work. It is so new that it is still a bit of trial and error, so allow for failure but give yourself some slack to adjust your strategy. The strategy should not be treated as an event but rather as an ongoing process that gets refined based on market forces and the degree of customer engagement.
You cannot build a community and then forget about it because, if you do, you will never get the people back.
What are some of the most basic steps a business/entrepreneur should take before launching a social media campaign?
You want to make sure that your foundation is set and ready to handle the influx of people from your social media campaign. Make sure that you think about the process people are going to take. If they are coming from Twitter or Facebook to a web page on your site, what do you want them to do once they get there? Make sure to think about the conversion and don’t ask someone to do something big too soon.
The best thing to do is setup a landing page with a simple opt-in box and give something away for free. This will bring them in and onto your list without asking them to commit to something bigger. Then, setup autoresponders that will go out automatically to the people who opt-in to upsell them on other offerings as time goes on.
The way to make this super successful is to make it feel as custom as possible. Reference the fact that the person came via Twitter and keep it relevant to that relationship. Once you have your foundation ready to go and tested, start with one site and tweak the message, if needed, before you hit the next site. A tool that I highly recommend for social media campaign management is www.arkli.com. Set everything up in there and share it with your colleagues ahead of time.
Love what you do, do what you love and be as authentic as possible.
What are some of the most basic steps a business/entrepreneur should take before launching a social media campaign?
Take the time to study your own market, and how people in your industry use social media like Twitter. Don’t just take the word of a company that offers fans or followers for a dollar value. Look at the quality of your following when you build, clean out irrelevant followers to make room for people who are interested in your niche market. Study the metrics. I mean the results.
See if direct from network sales work, or if you need to send people to a sales page. Provide useful, interesting content for your fan or customer base. Don’t hit people outside your niche, they will only get annoyed or offended. Hire an expert like myself, that can properly provide that content in a fashion that will build your business. It’s hard work, and don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. Don’t fall for fan or follower gimmicks, look for an offline business that does things by the book, or hire some staff who can pay attention to it.
Most importantly, stay a daily active – real participant. People appreciate that and when they appreciate you, the sales come "automagically”, I like to say. Become the expert advisor, then sell later on. Sneak it in, people are cool with creative cool, viral advertising content.
Remember social networking is about creating community, something that business owners have done for centuries. The tools of communication have changed but the basics of courtesy and conversation remain the same. Be helpful, informative and friendly and you’ll be off to a great start in building your online (and offline) community.
Don’t ever underestimate the importance of your customers. You will succeed if you go above and beyond their expectations. That’s a lesson I live by. I’ve been so lucky to meet so many people that have inspired me to start my own business and succeed.
What makes Pinterest such a great platform for brands? Any tip to share?
Pinterest is great opportunity for brands because it can be a portal for their products, services and even their content. It is a chance to lead with content and let social interaction take a secondary role. Brands will be able to see what people care about instead of who they care about. The market research alone could be invaluable to brands.
My top three tips:
- Images are more effective than text as an engagement tool so I would encourage everyone to connect their Pinterest content to their Facebook profiles.
- Add the “Follow Me On Pinterest” button to your site. The neat thing about this is that this will allow you to segment your followers. They may follow distinct boards based on the way you theme them instead of following ‘all’ your boards.
- Pin your products and your content to themed boards on Pinterest with shortened links that allow you to track your Pinterest traffic. Make sure that you are presenting your products, services and content in a visually appealing way because this is what will draw people’s eye. They aren’t reading the subtext in other words. Stand out, be creative and most of all; be unique!
What are some of the things companies or entrepreneurs should pay attention to when they want to build an attractive website?
Simplicity is beautiful. A common pitfall is to include too much content on a page, which often adds to clutter and confusion, as well as bounce rates. But don't be afraid to be visual. Big, colorful images can do a lot to draw the eye.
Social monitoring and engagement are, of course, very important. But, are there other things to which brands should pay attention to succeed?
The biggest issue I see is the lack of strategy and metrics in place to guide and measure success. Most small to medium businesses jump into social media without understanding how best to utilize and improve social ROI for their business.
For those who don’t have the budget to outsource their social media strategy (most businesses), I recommend this social media marketing template to help guide strategy and implementation.
Then continuously monitor your social progress through SocialMotus, and adjust your strategy as needed.
As much as we need good content and people to create it, we also need to be able to get it when we most need it. So, we need good content curators – the experts who glean and gather the valuable information, separate it from the weeds, and present it to us in an easy to digest manner.
Without doubt, curation is the future of social content.
What is the number 1 mistake business owners make when it comes to promoting themselves online? And what would you advise them to do instead?
I will give you the #1 and #2 mistakes I find with a majority of my clients. First, they don’t have a social media marketing program. Second, they aren’t utilizing the unimaginable strength of social media effectively.
If you don’t use social media in today’s business world, you are going out of business. Once you accept that reality, you realize that you must design and implement a full-spectrum social media campaign, and you must nurture your social media campaign daily. Facebook is not enough. In fact, there are no social media services that are effective on their own.
The thing that makes Social Media revolutionary is the simple fact that I, as a business owner, can reach millions of people for a relatively low or possibly no cost. The reach that we take for granted today would have cost millions of marketing dollars just a couple of decades ago.
It is important for you to see social media for the leviathan that it has already become. Just because there are people out there who post pictures of their lunch doesn’t mean that is what social media is designed to do.
The fact that those people are using this advanced marketing tool for free is an indicator of the utilitarian functionality of social media.
If you are serious about growing your business and being successful, then you should identify your brand and own every single social media service or tool that you can get. There is a website called namechk.com that will show you if your brand is available, and what it is available on. You can search for domains and social site availability at the same time. Then, if your brand is available, go sign up for all of the sites you can—before someone else does.
Why do people need to measure influence? And how do you think the concept will evolve?
It has to evolve. People like the "influence" metric because for a user, it makes you feel "cool," and marketers love to hear that they are reaching people who can relay their message to their friends. But unfortunately, being "influential" on social media could just mean you have a lot of empty followers and say the things that get retweeted often, however unoriginal they may be. It's easily gamed, and there's no conversation involved.
Content marketing as an inbound tactic is over. Today’s content marketing needs to be more about THEM (our customers), almost displacing our role as content creators.
Markets are made by collaboration and development of a community where collaboration is prized and US (marketing teams) and THEM (customers) become WE. We are smarter and more powerful together than anyone is alone. The key, in this web marketing business, is to be five minutes ahead of the pack not five minutes after.
We all heard ‘content is king’. This rushed a lot of businesses to experiment with content without really defining how they would achieve return on investment.
Content marketing success requires to execute well all steps of a cycle: defining a strategy, planning and project managing content operations, producing and curating content, distributing it, measuring its impact on business goals, and amplifying what works well.
Marketers need to realize that these six steps don’t add up: they multiply themselves. That means that if you excel at each of them, you’ll see exponential results. But that also means that if you neglect any one of them, you annihilate all your other efforts - which is why some marketers feel discouraged these days while others are bullish on content as they invested in processes, tools and skills that deliver ROI.
Many businesses struggle with getting traffic from Instagram. But the traffic that comes from Instagram is typically higher quality than traffic from any other social media site! To make sure you're getting the best results from Instagram, you need to make good use of traffic referrals.
Most importantly, the only clickable link on Instagram is in the profile bio. So make sure you have your website link listed there! It can be any link to your site - a lead page, a sales page, your blog page, or your home page. Just make it the most relevant page for traffic leads and where you want people to go. Also, because of a how traffic is directed from Instagram, traffic is considered direct, not referral so Google Analytics can't track it. Therefore, I recommend you use a bit.ly or goo.gl link that allows you to track clicks so you can see what traffic you're actually getting. Use this link ONLY on Instagram so that the click data is accurate to Instagram traffic. Finally, make sure you use clear calls-to-action in your post captions to direct people to click on the link in your bio!"
The golden rules of a successful social media strategy
Every industry is different. What works in a specific field may not work in another. However, some tips and rules are universal. And as such, they should be shared.
I asked social media professionals, artists and small business owners to give me their best tips to create a winning social media strategy. Here is what they had to say...
"Add value" - Julio Viskovich (Twitter: @juliovisko)
This most important tip I can give that is universal is to add value to other people. You can’t sell yourself or your product until people trust you. The cycle is know-like-trust-buy. In order to build the trust needed, you need to be genuine and add value to you audience and market.
"Add your personality to the mix" - Dino Hukic (Twitter: @dino_hukic)
Show some personality. It is important to add personality to social media. Every product, service, company and person should show their personality online. It is a way of standing out from the crowd and allowing people to connect with you. The way that this is conveyed through social media is important and it is still a hard task to keep it real and natural online, but if this is done properly, it can benefit you endlessly.
"Aim for quality" - Laurie Lockhart (Twitter: @getthemessagepr)
Know your message and your audience: Direct and create your posts for your audience, and follow and seek followers who are relevant – quality over quantity.
"Always pay attention to your audience" - Tom George (Twitter: @netbillboards)
In sales you hear catch phrases like “God gave you two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak” It is also a fact that 80% percent of sales are made by 20% percent of the sales force. I think this concept can and should be applied to an effective social media strategy. You should comment and interact with your fans, followers and friends pages and posts often. Find the right ratio that works. This is how you build trust and get a dialogue going. The first thing you must realize is to avoid self delusion, to understand it is not simply all about “You” all of the time.
"Be an example online" - George Williams (Twitter: @George_Williams)
Always give first, without expectation of return. Never forget to say thank you. And if you are sharing content prepared by someone else, always make sure to review it for quality before sharing. Never say anything online, privately or publicly, that you wouldn’t want on the front page of The New York Times. Always take the high road and know that The Golden Rule and The Laws of Compensation are alive and well on social media.
Be consistently engaged - Jennifer Quinn (Twitter: @youbeingsocial)
When implementing one’s strategy, remember to be consistently engaged. For example, on a Facebook fan/business page, posting 1 time per day, M-F, is not the same as posting 5 times a week. Your fans begin to look forward to regular content if it is delivered in a dependable timeline. Alternatively, if you post 5 times in one day, only once per week, it is probable you will lose fans.
"Behave online as you would offline" - Sian Phillips (Twitter: @_Sians)
Engage with people, never ignore comments unless they really aren’t worth acknowledging.
Chat to people and make them realise you are real – you may be a front for your business so humanise it to make it more accessible.
Don’t be rude, confrontational or a bully. Be careful expressing an opinion as sometimes it can come across as arguing. Ensure you make it known it’s just your opinion and of course people can agree to disagree.
Have respect for other people on Social Media – remember they aren’t just an avatar, they are a person, and you wouldn’t go up to someone in the street in front of a crowd and shout abuse or be disrespectful.
Share great posts or connections when you can – this may then be reciprocated but more importantly you are helping other people and spreading some good info.
Help people where you can – if you have an expertise then have a search column for it on Twitter and answer those you can help with.
Most of all – be yourself.
"Be human" - Mika Douglas (Twitter: @studentinlife)
Be authentic, real and compassionate. Remove yourself from the technology and be human.
"Be passionate and caring" - Karla Campos (Twitter: @SocialMediaSass)
I’ve been observing a lot of people who are unhappy with their jobs and how they behave at these jobs, let me just say that those who lack the passion and do not love what they do will reflect that in their work. What does this have to do with social media? You can tell when someone isn’t really happy to talk to you, you can tell when someone is genuinely interested in you and when they are not. In life and in social media it is the little things that count, something as small as saying good morning or hello to someone can make a big difference and if you mean it is that much more powerful. That is my big secret: I give a crap and I have passion for what I do :)
"Be persistent" - Andrew Macarthy (Twitter: @500socialmedia)
Despite the myths, getting a million social media followers and building strong, long-lasting relationships with loyal customers won’t happen overnight. Focus on posting great content regularly, position yourself for the long haul, and slowly but surely, progress will occur.
"Beware TMI" - Deanna Dahlsad (Twitter: @DPopTart)
There's a fine line between 'personable' and 'personal'. While personality is encouraged, know you customer and observe respectful limits. In most cases, discussing or mentioning or religion and/or politics can be more alienating than engaging to your audience. Those topics are even more risky than risque comments.
"Be yourself and be flexible" - Bryan P Hollis (Twitter: @brphollis)
I have found that using social media as a hard-sell tool / tactic is not wise. Not through experience, but observation. Many would say that I am not the easiest person to "mesh" with. Social media networking should be genuine. Much like friendships, you find that you can count your network closely. This is genuine and a lot more gets accomplished than trying to cater to everyone.
"Build a community" - Carol Woodliff (Twitter: @scaredtosacred)
I find one of the best strategies I use is to be interested in what others are doing and help them get the word out. I look at social media much like I do in-person networking. If it is all about me and I’m only selling or pushing myself it is a big turnoff. But if I can notice what others are doing that my groups on Facebook or Twitter would relate to and share it, then I’m sharing good information and helping others at the same time.
I am friends with many other authors and we all cross-promote each others’ work. It was so helpful when I launched my book because I had a team helping me promote.
And I think the more authentic I am, sharing both ups and selective downs, my weird sense of humor and my other interests outside of my healing practice, the more people feel comfortable with me. (And those that don’t aren’t “my people” anyway!) For example one of the things I do on Facebook is to share nature photos that I take. I’ve become known as the “tree lady” because of my interesting tree photos. Who would have thought that would be something that clients would say, “I saw your photos and knew I had to work with you!”?"
"Build relationships" - Jerry Doby (Twitter: @jdobypr)
Maximize the brief moments you have with your audience/customers and let them feel they are dealing with a flesh and blood human being and not some “bot” on a mission to clean out their pockets. GIVE them something they can hold onto, a good morning, hope all is well, anything interesting with you today? Those types of things build trust, comfort and the willingness to in return, hear what you have to say.
"Build your story" - Roz Morris (Twitter: @dirtywhitecandy)
Social media marketing seems to work by a gentlemanly process of relationships – people get to know you, enjoy your company in an interview or a blog post. It’s the way books have always sold on in traditional publishing – by generating curiosity so that one day the reader stops and picks up the book.
It’s a fantastic tool for creating our identity as writers. We can show people who we are under the books, where we go exploring for ideas, where we get help. We can ask for advice when we need it. And it’s surprising how many are listening!
"Create and maintain a blog" - Emmanuel Gonot
There are many proven strategies out there and the only way to find one that really works for you is to just do it, get your feet wet, experiment, learn from the best minds in the industry. Having said that, I think that one of the best strategies is blogging. Create a blog (could be a new domain or a subdomain or a subfolder to an existing site) from which you can share content, centralize all your contact information, promote something, and interact with your community. Some people are not on Twitter and some are averse to FB or G+ or YouTube, but everyone can visit your blog and react to and share your posts. In my opinion, you haven’t really started to get serious about social media engagement until you’ve started your very own content sharing platform.
"Create excitement around your brand" - John Thomas (Twitter: @blogliterati)
Customer was king, is and always will be. How do you turn fans into loyal customers of your brand and how to ensure people who already use your products/services continue using them? By enhancing brand experiences and building meaningful relationships. And now more than ever, social media has made it so easy to engage on a personal and personable level with the customers.
Don’t ever enter social media because you need to be there or because it’s an in-thing. Humanize your selling strategies and efforts. Though you are engaging virtually, you are dealing with humans – real people with feelings and emotions, not just prospects to whom you need to sell products.
Start the day with a nice quote or an inspiring message before talking about your products or services. People love to kick-start their day with some inspiration. Create some excitement about your product/brand or service. Don’t directly sell, talk about real life issues and experiences and how your products or services could add value to people’s lives.
"Define your purpose before jumping on the social networking bandwagon" - Liz Wilson (Twitter: @lizwilson2)
Treat strategy as strategy. One of the first questions I hear a lot is “Should we be on Facebook or Google+?”. Often people are anxious to start using or expanding social networks before they have defined their purpose. So I would say:
- Be clear what you want to achieve via social media
- Consider who you are speaking to
- Think about what you want to say to them to engage them, and what they can say to you
- Only then begin to think about the right networks and how you will use them.
This is pretty simplified of course. But the essence is strategy first, tactics after.
Don't Be Afraid - Joe Cheray
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. People want to know they are dealing with a human not a robot. It's ok to show your aggravation with something. As long as it is done in as much of a diplomatic manner as possible especially if your dealing with a brand.
Don't be afraid to admit your having an off day to your audience. There might be someone out there in your audience who is also having a bad day.
Don't be afraid to share your success either. When you do something that you are proud of OWN it.
"Engage" - Louis
Engage with your customers, let them know that an actual human being is managing your social media account, not a bot.
Start a conversation, ask a question and encourage replies.
Be omni present – have the links to your social media pages visible on your page, in your email signature, on your business card.
"Enjoy doing social media" - Julia Angelen Zunich (Twitter: @JuliaAngelenPR)
My best tip is to only engage in social media if you enjoy it. Forcing yourself to do it makes it miserable (and boring for us.) Find someone in your organization that loves it and let them be the champion.
"Focus on the needs of your audience" - Michael McDonald (Twitter: @vtwinfitness)
The first thing that comes to mind is make it about them not about myself. Find out what my customers/clients/friends want or need. A good communicator is a good listener. What value can I be for someone else?
"Foster a social organization" - Lauren Licata (Twitter: @LaurenLicata)
If a social strategy is going to work, you need to transform your organization into a social one. This means, you need buy-in from management who understands the objectives of the social media marketing program. You also need to identify SME (subject matter experts) in each of your company’s functional area who are willing to actively contribute to your blog. For example, I work at a branding and design firm and we’re setting metrics to encourage all departments; 2D design, industrial design, accounts, etc. to contribute relevant content to our blog on a regular basis. The marketing team should drive these efforts, but a marketer is not an expert at say, prototyping. It takes everyone in an organization to produce and distribute valuable content on a regular basis!
"Keep your message consistent" - Kevin
Make sure that you keep your message the same in all forms of social media as well as the rest of your company, to keep people from getting confused as to what your trying to get across. Also make sure to get your message out and be genuine and to the point, no need for smoke and mirrors.
"Learn, teach and connect" - Ileane Smith (Twitter: @Ileane)
I’m here to learn, to teach, and to connect. I think if we can use social media to do those three things, we’ll have a great strategy in place.
"Learn the specificities of each social network" - Adam Houlahan (Twitter: @adamhoulahan)
Don’t try to be a master of all Social Media platforms at once, how you strategize for Twitter will be vastly different to Pinterest or Facebook etc. Whilst this lives under the comment “have a plan” your plan has to have sub categories for each platform you intend to use. Not all platforms suit all business types, so research your competitors & see what they are doing well and what may not be working for your industry as a whole. Starting small also allows you do hide some initial mistakes without being out there on every platform.
"Listen" - Mary Helen Ferris (Twitter: @greatpoetrymhf)
Treating your prospects, clients, contacts, and aquaintances with the valued part they play in your life….they are the reason you are you. Be yourself with them. It is a fair exchange. They could do business with anyone. They have chosen you because you are authentic. Be consistently authentic. Listen. The word listen has the key to all relationships. It really means list ten…..list ten things your speaker is saying. They will tell you what they want. Your job is to give them permission to have it by investing in themselves through your products. You can help them acquire and achieve. You are the achiever they have chosen. List ten things they want from you.
"Never stop learning" - Ching Ya (Twitter: @chingya)
Social networking is an on-going learning process. Be humble and never stop offering quality content and engage with like-minded people.
"Remember that audiences are like you" - Natalie Brown (Twitter: @natalie_brown)
When you market yourself, product or service, remember that you are targeting people just like you. Think about your interests, needs and desires and market to those same people and meet their need with what you do, make or sell!
"Remember the purpose of social media" - Lynn O'Connell (Twitter: @omdirect)
Don’t view social media as another channel for distributing your press releases. It’s not. Instead, speak person to person. Respect your readers and strive to provide value with every tweet or post. That could come from news updates, commentary with a strong point of view, or from providing links to articles you know will interest them. There are many effective strategies, but no one — no one — wants a constant stream of self-serving marketing messages.
Let’s say you’re promoting a conference. DON’T spam your readers with constant reminders of early bird deadlines. DO link to interesting content by speakers or, even better, get guest posts from speakers and promote those. Use social media to give your audience a taste of what your conference will be about instead of hard selling registration with every post.
"Respect your audience" - Matthew Shepherd (Twitter: @MatShepSEO)
"You don’t have to be on every social media platform out there especially when this dilutes your ability to share unique and meaningful content and hold good conversation.
Understand how your community uses the social media space you are in. Respect that for many this is a recreational, social and learning activity. This is not just another opportunity for interruption marketing.
For goodness sake at least try to be interesting! For example, just because your business sells a specific type of insurance and that’s what you want to sell to your social media network doesn’t mean that is all you have at your disposal to share and discuss. Your social media community is unlikely to want to consume that kind of content all of the time. Talk about topics relevant to people who buy insurance such as small business advice, home and garden maintenance, auto tips, local events, simple how to financial and insurance guides etc.
This isn’t just a push medium. Read your communities updates, comment on them, be genuinely interested in the community, converse and don’t be afraid to share your views.
Follow people who interest you and follow those people who follow you (if they appear to be a genuine person or organization). If we all behaved in person like many businesses do in social media we would all be pretty lonely people. Your social media success should not be measured by follower numbers it should be guided by quality and frequent engagement."
"Solicit your audience's feedback" - Nigel Lamb (Twitter: @xposure)
When sharing a blog post, news item, promotional item etc. always ask for feedback on it. Don’t just ask people to read it. Tell them what they can get out of it and how they can join in and help, by giving their feedback.
"Start with a plan" - Martin Lindeskog (Twitter: @Lyceum)
"You have to start with answering the question “why” you are in business and why you should use social media at all.
Ask more questions: Where are you customers online? What are your objectives with your social media activities? Then comes the strategy along together with the tech. tools. These ideas are presented in the Groundswell book by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff.
One rule could be to have a calendar, scheduling your social media activities during the week, months, with milestones places on a timeline.
"Start with a plan, test and measure" - Michele Smorgon (Twitter: @maxOz)
1) Clarify Your Marketing Goals and Specific Objectives.
2) Determine your target audience or ideal client. It’s important to identify exactly who you want to reach in order to develop a solid plan of action. Be as specific as possible.
3) Then consider your marketing platforms and where to reach your audience
4) Decide on Your Value Offering
5) Test and Measure
"Tailor your messages" - Doug Wolfgram (Twitter: @dougwolfgram)
Most people don’t stop to think about point-of-business. It is silly to think that one post applies to all social networks. Remember that each network has unique users with different mindsets when they visit. Tailor your message accordingly.
"Tell a story and optimize" - Pattie Simone (Twitter: @WomenCentric)
There are two things that can help you maximize your social media strategy. First, tell a story. People love stories, especially ones that reflect your unique personality and your “take” on any given subject. Stories humanize your brand; great stories also share timely info, smart tips and /or valuable resources. You can expertize yourself and direct great traffic to your site via interesting stories.
Number two – understand the value of optimized content! So wherever you are sharing tips, intel, news, advice, etc., think HOW your prospects are seeking your kind of products, services or information and include those search engine optimized phrases and hashtags in your posts. This will help boost the number of eyeballs on your content, and the number of warmer leads that connect with you!"
"Use Facebook contests to engage and reward fans" - Donna Hamer
Here are three simple steps to get started:
Step 1 – Use a third party app (this is a little piece of software that you add to your Facebook Page). It manages the entries, is very simple to use and complies with the Promotional Guidelines.
Step 2 – Understand and implement the seven Guidelines. For example, don’t ask people to use any of Facebook’s functions such as liking a post, commenting on a post, sharing a post, tagging and so on – to run your competition or promotion.
Step 3 – Educate yourself and your team on Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines so that your business grows its digital footprint.
"Walk the talk" - Dave Kragenbrink (Twitter: @dkragen)
You have great ideas and content, that's wonderful. But you have to practice what you preach. If you ask your readers to believe you, they have to know you believe yourself.