You’re a small business owner, and you already have a personal Facebook profile. You might be thinking: why should I start a Facebook business/fan page? What’s the difference?
As it turns out, there’s a big difference, one that could actually get you in trouble with the world’s biggest social network. And that would be a major speed bump for your business as you try to get the most out of social media marketing.
Splash Media social media manager Stephanie Williams talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about the ways Facebook business pages can serve as an effective platform for community building and content sharing.
Bjarte H., an IT sales representative, has this week’s question for our Splash Answers blog:
As a fairly new user of social media overall and of LinkedIn groups specifically, Bjarte asks, “What is the best and quickest way to increase your LinkedIn members?”
In order to understand how to increase group membership in LinkedIn, it’s first important to understand the needs of your audience. Why does your target audience join groups in the first place?
One of the main reasons people join groups is for skills development. Professionals want to have real-life conversations with others who may be experts in a particular field. They also join groups to find new, relevant content that they may not have been able to come across on their own, to network with influencers in their field, gain exposure and learn more about their particular industry.
Knowing these tracking points can make your LinkedIn Group a valid resource for the professional niche you’re targeting. So…what are your next steps?
• Offer great content – Remember, in social media, content is king. If you constantly have interesting, exciting content, more people will keep coming to you as a thought-leader.
• Stay relevant and fresh – This is particularly important in the world of social media, where relevant information is quickly updated. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re lagging!
• Use keywords that people are searching – Whether you’re in the mortgage sector, health industry, or IT like Bjarte, you will find there are certain buzzwords that their target audience uses to search the Internet. By utilizing the key phrases that are pertinent to your target audience in your text and descriptions, others will be able to find you faster and engage with you quicker.
The key is to know your target audience and make sure your group is giving that audience the information it needs. Remember, professionals have little time and lots to do. They want to join groups that can help them manage their time better, not those that waste it. Maintain a cutting-edge group and you’ll increase group members in no time!
The Twitter feed from Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, @fairmonthotels, goes by another name: “Suite Tweets.” As the luxury hotel chain prepares to celebrate its third anniversary as a tweeting corporation, it intends to provide some very sweet treats to its social media marketing-loving fans.
“We’re looking for ways to recognize and reward those who follow us in that space,” Mike Taylor, Fairmont Hotels’ director of public relations and the “voice” of its Twitter feed, told Splash Media. But his company’s larger goal is always “about interacting and connecting with your customers, or people who have an interest in your product or brand, and creating an environment where they can have a dialogue with you and share information and share their experiences.”
Taylor, who’s been with the Fairmont chain since 1998, says establishing the brand’s Twitter account was the first step in its overall social media strategy. Facebook and YouTube pages shortly followed, as did the Everyone’s An Original hub (www.everyonesanoriginal.com), an online community where users can share stories, photos and videos of their stays at Fairmont 67 properties in 16 countries.
Yet Taylor has particular pride in the company’s Twitter feed. “I think we’ve been pretty innovative in the types of things we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’ve asked people to help us design guest packages, we asked them to vote on it, we named it specifically for Twitter followers and we market it to them. We’ve been focused on trying to engage them in what we do, rather than pushing out our messaging.”
Fairmont Hotels has been active with social media-based incentives and rewards; as it climbed to the 10,000-follower mark, every thousandth follower would receive a special gift, “just as a way of saying thank you,” Taylor said. And “liking” its Facebook page right now can win discount rates for customers.
But there’s more to a winning social media strategy than giveaways, whether you’re selling weekend getaways for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts or widgets at YourSmallBusiness.com:
* Be genuine. If you’re not, “customers can see through that pretty quickly. Have the right tone within the social environment – be real and speak to the customers as individuals.”
* Rethink measurement. Sure, Fairmont keeps track of bookings, revenue generated and time spent on social platforms, but also “the more informal or anecdotal feedback, where you’re actually hearing straight from your customers. It’s not as quantitative but we still pull that information in and put it into the larger picture.”
* Cast a wide content net. “We speak about ourselves, but also things happening in pop culture, technology, the social media space, as well as travel and tourism.”
All this has helped Fairmont seem more human on Facebook and Twitter, Taylor said – and customers are returning the favor. “For us, that’s the big win, to be able to connect with them on a one-on-one basis. In our business it is about developing and nurturing relationships. I feel like I know a lot of the people who follow us on a day-to-day basis.”
From Arab Spring to London Summer.
Social media is once again at the epicenter of a major uprising somewhere in the world. Only this time, it’s not an autocratic Middle Eastern government reeling from revolutionaries organizing their protests via Facebook, Twitter and smartphone texts. It’s merry old England that has found itself dealing with nearly a week’s worth of not-so-merry rioting, initially sparked by a deadly police shooting.
British police are blaming social media in England and Blackberry’s instant messaging network for the violent civil disobedience, which has included beatings and looting. Unsavory types are using tweets and texts to organize their next rampage, authorities claim. What started in the heart of London has spread to other cities throughout the U.K., and is also prompting some to ask law enforcement to shut down social media networks. Prime Minister David Cameron says he’s considering it.
Who would have thought that the country that gave us the Magna Carta, which helped establish the foundations of the rule of law, would think about using some of the same freedom-of-expression suppression tried this year in Tunisia and Egypt? We saw how well those tactics worked in those countries; both former leaders are now auditioning for the hot new reality series, “Celebrity Dictator Rehab.”
The social media genie is long out of the bottle, and trying to censor it won’t help. Brands and businesses should be aware of that by now, but sometimes governments are the last to get the (text) message.
But that’s just us. What do you think about what’s going on in England and the talk of a social media crackdown there? Please share your thoughts in our Comments section below.
And while you’re organizing your (hopefully) non-violent response, consider these stories, best practices and social media marketing tips from the week:
Wait A Minute: Social Media IS A Good Thing For Car Dealers After All
Gee, it seems like only three months ago that Splash Media was taking exception to an AutoNews.com story that questioned social media marketing’s impact on the car sales industry. Yet this Jefferson Graham story in USA Today now makes our case for us – in fact, it highlights some tactics that Splash Media has used effectively for its auto dealer clients.
Social Video Helps High-End Retailers Set The Gold Standard For Content
Kayla Hutzler of Luxury Daily reports on several successful social video campaigns for the likes of Audi and Jimmy Choo, but the lessons regarding the use of video for storytelling – NOT web-based commercials – can apply to any kind of company and smaller/mid-size businesses.
The Social Media Marketing To-Do List For Budget Season
The fall doesn’t just bring football, cooler weather (we hope!) and Halloween. It’s also time for many businesses to draft budgets for the coming year, and Heidi Cohen of ClickZ offers a handy guide for the kinds of questions those companies should ask themselves when figuring out their social media marketing spending.
That’s it for us this week. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here bright and early Monday morning!
What is BranchOut?
The professional social network category used to involve just one big company – LinkedIn. But now others are introducing themselves in this category, the most notable of late being BranchOut, an applications that sits inside your Facebook account.
The company, based in San Francisco, has been busy building up millions of members and plenty of venture capital funding. Yet how exactly will BranchOut reach out to workers and businesses to take advantage of its Facebook integration?
BranchOut founder/CEO Rick Marini talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about his company’s growth over its first year of existence, how it compares to LinkedIn and how he hopes BranchOut is used for recruiting and marketing purposes.
We’d like to hear from you! Tell us what you think about BranchOut, its business model and what you see it doing for social media!
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One of our loyal blog followers, Martin P., asks, “To truly engage your audience through social media, is content enough?” This is an excellent question — one that has the potential of having multiple correct answers.
Personally, I think you first have to define “content.” Some consider content simply as text. Others contend that photos and videos also count as content. Sometimes, text is all you need to get your point across. However, for most businesses, I’d strongly advise to take the extra step and add links, photos, videos and anything else that can attract visitors.
Did you know that Google, YouTube and Facebook are the three most popular websites in the world, according to MostPopularWebsites.net? All three play vital roles in a content plan. For example, Google owns YouTube, so YouTube videos rank extremely high when doing Google searches. A popular video that is optimized with popular keywords can result in increased traffic to your website, which, in turn, can mean bigger and better business opportunities for your company.
When it comes to content, you have to take Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences” theory into consideration here. Nearly 30 years ago, Gardner developed an educational model that separates intelligence and learning into various modalities. He said people learn with multiple abilities rather than a single, dominant, general ability. While some are better learners reading text (linguistic learning), others are better learners watching videos or viewing pictures (spatial learning). The majority of people will acknowledge that they learn faster with images rather than with words alone.
In answering Martin’s questions, text can be enough in some cases. However, to completely get the full attention of your audience, consider going above and beyond. In other words, make the content your meat and potatoes, but dress up the plate with tasty side dishes. You will be glad you did once you notice how much your traffic increases.-
Introducing Snap Tag
Up until now, QR codes have received the lion’s share of publicity when it came to coverage of two-dimensional codes that can unlock special brand content for consumers. But a Denver-based marketing technology company is threatening to steal the mobile marketing spotlight by making it easier for small/mid-size businesses to boost their connections with customers.
The company, SpyderLynk, late last week announced the release of Social Snap Tags, special customizable codes that look like a broken circle surrounding the logo of a social network. QR codes require a smartphone and the download of a special app to access their content; Snap Tags can be shot with a basic feature-phone’s camera and sent through short-message service or email as a way to unlock special promotions and discounts – or deposit the user smack in the middle of that company’s Facebook page or Twitter account, where they can “like” and comment to their heart’s content.
Yes, there is a Snap Tag iPhone app (with Android support coming soon), but opening up access to those without the latest and greatest smartphones makes mobile marketing’s benefits available to more consumers – and more companies, says SpyderLynk CEO Nicole Skogg.
“We see mobile phone as the connection vehicles for consumers and brands, and it is the most powerful tool to be able to connect through all types of media,” Skogg told Splash Media. “Whether it’s through print advertising, through mobile campaigns on the phone, to something that I can post on a (Facebook) wall, mobile unlocks integration across all mediums.”
Previous versions of Snap Tags could feature a company’s logo (SpyderLynk’s clients have included Coke Zero, Revlon, L’Oreal, Warner Bros., Toyota and Bud Light), but by using a brand’s preferred social network, Skogg says those businesses – particularly small businesses – can more effectively harness the power of social media. “I think Facebook and Twitter are the most disruptive forms of direct marketing ever,” she said. “They make it so easy and cost-effective for brands or companies to talk to their fans, customers, followers. We’re trying to make it easier, whether it’s a big brand or a small brand, to add people from the real world to their databases.”
Obviously, that kind of data is digital gold for companies. Skogg says SnapTags let businesses mine those motherloads of information by knowing which particular advertising and marketing methods are driving engagement.
Example: the new issue of Glamour Magazine has a Social Snap Tag sharing the cover with singer Rihanna. “From Glamour, we’re going to know if it’s discounts, or is it sweepstakes, what campaigns are really activating consumers,” she said. “What’s great is that the customer gives you permission for information they want you to access. They’re creating the engagement, they are liking profiles. It puts consumers in the driver’s seat. And the marketer gets information about what kinds of media placement are driving activation, what kinds of campaigns.”
It isn’t just the big brands that are opening their minds – and their budgets – to mobile marketing campaigns. Tools like Social SnapTags can also find their way into a small business social media playbook. What’s your take – where do you see the benefits for Social SnapTags? Do you have any success stories involving mobile marketing and two-dimensional codes?
Tell us about your experience or thoughts about SnapTags in the comments below!
Genghis Grill, the Dallas-based restaurant chain famous for its Mongolian barbecue, thinks it has found the recipe for social media success.
The chain, which has more than 70 stores in 19 states, rapidly discovered how Facebook and Twitter have become key ingredients in its digital branding strategies and in starting conversations with customers. In fact, it was a customer who first got Genghis Grill heading down the path to social media enlightenment.
Genghis Grill marketing coordinators Chiara Granado and Liz Jones talk to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about how the chain used social media to boost its HealthKwest initiative, and whether the restaurant industry is taking a big enough bite out of new media marketing strategies.
To learn more about Ghengis Grill, visit their website at http://www.genghisgrill.com/.
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As social media becomes more and more popular, experts are hoping it merges with as many professions as possible. In the state of Missouri, it appears as though social media and education will have an “it’s complicated” relationship rather than be considered “married.” (Check the nearest Facebook profile to understand that reference.)
According to a new Missouri Senate bill, teachers and students will not be allowed to have direct contact via any social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.). In other words, teachers and students cannot be Facebook friends or Twitter followers. The bill, questioned by many who find social media to be an easy-yet-effective way to converse with anyone, was signed by Gov. Jay Nixon and goes into effect Aug. 28.
The bill is expected to identify and delineate teacher-student boundaries because inappropriate relationships, sexual misconduct and/or other inappropriate behavior between students and teachers have become more of an issue within educational systems nationwide. It has been said that the bill affects only direct social media contact; teachers still will be allowed to create public-setting pages (an open Facebook page, for example) that all of their students can access.
I expect this to be a very interesting discussion topic within schools and school districts nationwide. For starters, social media is how many of our youngsters with cellphones communicate (besides texting). Let’s also keep in mind just how well social media has integrated within certain school systems. Some schools use e-learning software platforms that practically serve as social media tools for individual classrooms, such as the popular course management system Moodle.
What are your thoughts about this bill? Facebook now has more than 750 million users. Should the bill have been passed? Would you support or oppose such a bill in your state? Are school administrators protecting their students or overreacting to isolated situations between students and teachers? Please sound off in the comments below!
It has already become the Quote Heard ‘Round The NFL – an audible from New England head coach Bill Belichick about social media.
Shortly after the Patriots signed former Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco – he of “Dancing With The Stars” fame and a hyperactive Twitter feed – Belichick was asked late last week at training camp if he was aware of his newest wide receiver’s infamous use of social media (Ochocinco was fined $25,000 last season for violating the NFL’s no-tweeting-from-the-sidelines rule).
The response? “That’s not something that I follow,” Belichick said. “I don’t Twitter, I don’t MyFace, I don’t YearBook.” (MyFace? YearBook? What is this, a “30 Rock” episode?) “I don’t do any of those things so I’d be the last one to know.”
I find it hard to believe that Belichick, one of the game’s best strategic thinkers, is that dense regarding social media. Okay, so he may not know the correct names of the social networks involved, but I’m guessing he’s all too aware of the potential for one of his star player’s tweets ending up as locker-room material for opposing teams.
Yet the coach’s comments do highlight the need for an update to the NFL’s social media policies, and the lessons that can be applied to all kinds of businesses. Use of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube haven’t been the focus of media coverage of the new collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, but if the teams and commissioner Roger Goodell’s office are smart, they’ll at least agree on clearer guidelines and better education for the players. The ban on tweets immediately before, during and right after games is pretty much all there is to the NFL’s social media playbook. The rest is up to the individual teams.
Yet the players are the brand, the brand is the franchise, and that franchise is part of the most popular sports league in America right now. If your franchise running back is saying certain things on Twitter (see: Mendenhall, Rashard and Bin Laden, Osama) how does that help relations with the ticket/merchandise-buying fans who are already put off by the recent lengthy lockout, the networks that like to feature such superstars and the brands that have endorsement deals with them? That’s a lot of cash riding on 140 ill-conceived characters.
Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange wrote a fine article in May about a social media monitoring program used by some NCAA Division I schools for their athletes that could fit nicely in the NFL. What’s the over/under on how much that program – and any other social media training instituted by teams or the league itself – will be needed this year when the inappropriate tweets start to fly, the media coverage starts to build and the league fines start to pile up?
For the NFL, it should be back to basic Social Media Marketing 101: think before you tweet. The same instincts that can get Kenneth Cole in trouble on Twitter (tying the February riots in Egypt to its new spring line of fashions) – or any business that uses social media in an unwise fashion – can also hit 20-something millionaires with nary a filter between them and their smartphones. Players may need to drill down on that before the season kicks off in September.
Just don’t get Bill Belichick to do the coaching.
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