Natalie Bidnick is a social media manager at Splash Media.
Focus on Quality over Quantity in Social Media for Businesses
As a social media professional, I frequently encounter clients who ask: “How many social media accounts should I have?”
It seems like there are new social media options every week, and businesses can be overwhelmed regarding their choices. But when it comes to effective social media for businesses, quality trumps quantity. It’s recommended that businesses should focus on four core social media avenues to maximize overall success:
• Facebook: From a single university to 750 million members worldwide: Facebook today is so much more than the Facebook of seven years ago. People use Facebook to not only stay in touch with their friends, but also to check in to business locations, offer criticism and compliments, and spread the word about what products or brands to use. Businesses should take full advantage of Facebook’s company page option to inform their audiences about sales, specials and announcements. Facebook is the perfect place to show the fun side of your company!
• Twitter: Whether you know it or not, people are tweeting about your industry. Twitter provides excellent ways to not only search what users are saying, but also contribute a constant stream of content to your audience. It’s easy, fun, and essential for communicating to your core customer base.
• LinkedIn: Professionals use LinkedIn to network for their careers, so it makes sense that businesses need a presence there. From engaging company employees to attracting qualified new hires, businesses of every shape and size need a place on the largest professional social network. LinkedIn also provides the added value of “groups,” or discussion forums, where your audiences can ask questions and further engage about your product or industry.
• Blog: A company blog provides the best method for increasing your business SEO value. Blog content enables your company to shine as an industry expert and offers your customers a closer look into your mission and values. Splash Media recommends that all of your social media activities drive traffic to your blog. They attract audience, provide value with unique, dynamic content, and engage them in a more detailed way than other marketing methods. A blog also provides the perfect space to answer detailed, frequent questions from your customers and prospective customers.
The next time your company is tempted to sign up for the newest social networking site, remember to focus your efforts – and time – on these four core venues for social media marketing. A closer focus on fewer networks can give you better results.
If you have questions or need assistance with social media marketing, Splash Media would be happy to help. Feel free to contact us today!
Splash Media wants to find out how schools are teaching social media. So today we begin an ongoing series of conversations with college and university instructors/officials from around the U.S. We’re asking: how are you teaching social media in the classroom?
Shailendra Jain, professor, University of Washington Foster School of Business
Professor Jain teaches the marketing MBA core course at UW, an institution that sends a lot of its graduates to work for many of the technology-related businesses in the Seattle area. Jain spent 30 years in traditional advertising, and while he’s aware of the changes being wrought by social media in the profession, he believes its basic principles will remain intact.
“If you don’t have the foundational marketing principles in hand, then you’ll be shooting in the dark whether you use new media or old media,” Jain told Splash Media. “If you don’t understand the audience and your competition, and the messaging environment, and don’t understand the promises you’re making and don’t see the overall broader environment in context, then you’re gambling.”
“I do sensitize students to the social media landscape. This year I have an invited a social media speaker to the core course. We’re not afraid of debate or discussion. I show them some messages on YouTube which have created a storm and gone viral. I talk about internet marketing.”
Jain, who is currently working on a research paper regarding consumer psychology and the internet, says he’s learning as much from his students about social media as they learn from him about traditional marketing techniques. “Absolutely. I’m learning from young people like crazy all the time. I’ve stopped being cynical about social media and I’m learning how it’s taking on a life of its own. I’m looking for opportunities to sit in on research presentations and listen to speakers, as well as observing people on the street using their gadgets, communicating and networking, expressing themselves, and I’m realizing they are empowered now in innumerable ways.”
Jain says just as traditional media plays a role in achieving marketing objectives, he expects social media to do the same. But he also is learning that the usual metrics involving return on investment may not apply in every case; creating perceptions and associations for products and services – and for those who make the products and provide the services – may lead to sales down the road, as opposed to instant “buy this now!” advertising. In that sense, Jain may be teaching the foundations of modern-day content marketing.
“Social media has the flexibility to serve as a traditional advertising forum as well as a more newsy, public relations-type of forum,” he said. “It’s more information rather than impersonal persuasion, which is evidently paid. On the other hand, there are instances where advertising has been hugely successful in social media,” he added, pointing to the 2010 Old Spice/Twitter/YouTube campaign.
Are you teaching about social media in your college or university? Do you know of any interesting classes that are incorporating how social networks are being used in a variety of industries? Splash Media would like to know for future blog posts. Please share in our Comments section.
The Facebook ad appeared on my Profile page this morning (that’s pre-Facebook Timeline Profile page, for those keeping score). It shows a woman giving the thumbs-down sign, asks me if my Fan page is not converting, and promises to boost my Likes by more than 50 percent.
Talk about bad timing. It was over a year ago that Facebook introduced its “Like” button, providing social media marketers with a valuable tool for their clients in terms of customer engagement and awareness. But thanks to the new Facebook Timeline and other changes this week from the social network, it now looks like marketers have more work cut out for them.
That’s the gist of a brief roundup of coverage from the announcements at Thursday’s f8 conference. Marketing analysts have had some time to digest the changes wrought by Mark Zuckerberg and company, and Splash Media has curated some of their conclusions for you.
In my initial blog post Thursday, I pointed to the higher priority given to third-party applications in the new Timeline and how that might fuel new opportunities for social media marketing. Mashable’s Todd Wasserman echoes that in his f8 roundup, but also quotes Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer as saying those apps better have good content and/or customer interactivity to keep from chasing them away.
AllFacebook.com’s David Cohen digs deeper into the future of the Like button with his post. Cohen’s takeaway? Marketers have some homework to do regarding GraphRank, the new analytics system introduced at the conference, how it will impact likes and shares and whether any new measurement landmarks will arise from this week.
Kunar Patel of AdAge Digital was able to ask a Facebook executive if brand pages were going to get a makeover similar to that of the individual Profile pages and their new Timelines. While not going into a lot of detail, the executive says any changes could mirror those of Timelines, with their emphasis on photos and other visual elements. Patel’s reporting also includes mention of Facebook Ads and the roles they’ll play in Timeline branding.
After playing with Timelines for a while, Splash Media social media manager Holly Rountree finds it much better for organizing memories and media. “It’s crazy, it’s kooky, it may be a little scary at first, but the new Facebook Timeline is a more efficient way to find info faster and better than originally planned.”
And as it turns out, Timelines and the other Facebook announcements from the week don’t change what’s become an immutable law in social media marketing: great content remains king. The better the content, the better chance that a business will be able to cut through changes and clutter, and have a positive impact on customers.
Social media is also still about sharing, so feel free to tell us what you think about Timelines and the new Facebook in our Comments section. Enjoy the first official weekend of fall and join us back here on Monday!
You logged on to Facebook earlier this week and saw changes to your good ole’ reliable News Feed – something called Top Stories, which Facebook in its algorithmic wisdom decides it’s important for you to see first, and a Ticker, which provided real-time updates from friends at the top right-hand corner of the page.
This was all in addition to the new Friend filters and Subscribe buttons introduced last week. Change “Subscribe” to “Follow” and you’ve got Twitter; the Friend filters, meanwhile, are meant to be Facebook’s answers to Google+ and its Circles feature for getting granular with what you want to share with whom.
Judging from Facebook, Twitter and mainstream media outrage on Wednesday, heads exploded all over the place thanks to these changes. But as it turns out, those angry users hadn’t seen anything yet, thanks to the Facebook f8 developer conference which started Thursday. CEO Mark Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Andy Samberg version that came out on stage first) introduced bigger, deeper changes.
One of those was Timeline, a major overhaul of Profile pages. Timeline “is the story of your life,” Zuckerberg told the audience. “It’s all your stories, all your apps, a new way to express who you are.” Indeed, it’s a different layout design that allows more life events to be chronicled and shared. That layout, by the way, emphasizes pictures and graphics more than ever, which will take some getting used to by those who get their underwear in a twist from simple News Feed tweaks.
The other big addition is the expansion of media sharing, and the announcement of some major third-party partners to help in that effort: Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Yahoo and other companies will make it easy for songs, movies, TV shows, books and news stories to enter the social media stream. And by entering the stream, I mean just that: if you see a friend is listening to Maroon 5 on Spotify, you can click on the update and suddenly, both of you are listening to the same song at the same time, no matter where you are. We’re talking media discoveries from trusted curators (read: friends) and that’s huge.
Splash Media will have more blog and SplashCast reaction to the latest Facebook changes and what they mean for social media marketing, but here’s my initial take: Facebook does indeed have to be careful to not only consider their longtime individual users when making these changes, but also how businesses and companies – a coveted target audience for Zuckerberg – will be impacted. It works in politics as well as business: don’t anger your base. And if you’re just starting efforts to target small businesses and convince them they need a Facebook presence, let them know where they figure into the renovations.
Having written that, I think the Timeline is much more visually appealing than the current Profile page. Third-party apps – including those useful in marketing efforts – get priority placement with the redesign. New analytics for Facebook’s Open Graph, called Graph Rank, could help steer the best content to brand fans and provide stronger guidance to developers. And the media sharing has a definite coolness quotient; whether it has a marketing element will be left up to the brainpower of those of us encouraging businesses to jump on the ever-evolving Facebook express.
What’s black and white and read all over? The new way Google is evaluating websites: Google Panda.
No, we’re not talking about a new plush toy from the king of search engines. Panda is a new algorithm developed by Google and named after one of its software engineers. Rolled out about six months ago to tackle the quality control issues in searches, Google Panda is a tool to increase the Google Search Engine efficiency and reliability for high quality results. If your site has low-quality content, you can expect a decrease in your Google Ranking.
The big difference with Google Panda is that it shifts the control around a bit. Now users have more input in judging the quality of a site. And users don’t have to do anything differently to power this change. Panda’s genius is usage metrics that measure:
- Time on site – determines quality of the site
- Bounce rate – percentage of people who leave the site without doing anything
- Social Signals such as +1’s – are people recommending this site?
- Page Views – how many views per visit
- Branded Search Traffic – the amount of people on the site specifically looking for a given site.
Unique content has always helped sites rank better in Google. Now, not only is Google looking for unique content, it’s also determining its quality. The aforementioned usage metrics help with that goal.
Some of Google’s high-quality content criteria:
- Is this expert information?
- Could this be duplicate info? Original content is valued higher.
- Is this a trusted source?
- Are there spelling or grammar errors? Syntax issues?
- Would you share it?
- Journalistic approach? Are both sides of an issue represented?
You should always ask yourself these questions before you publish content on your site.
So what does Google Panda mean for the average business?
Whether or not you agree with Google, you still want to – OK, need to – rank well in Google. So listen up to what the company is saying instead of trying to pull a fast one or get around the rules (we’re looking at you, JC Penney). Google’s advice to publishers on the web? “Search is a complicated and evolving art and science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic tweaks, we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users.”
Good advice from the wise Google Panda.
Today’s guest blogger is Rhea Thomas. Rhea is the blog manager for Splash Media.