Archive | September, 2014

Ello Is a Wake-Up Call for Social Media Marketing

29 Sep

To understand upstart social network Ello, which burst into the spotlight this week — growing from just 90 members in August to a reported 30,000 new users per hour — let’s start with its manifesto:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way…We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate—but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

Even if you’re cheering for this phenomenon as a social media user, the view from inside any business that relies on social media advertising may be less enthusiastic.

Businesses need to take Ello and its manifesto as a wake-up call to rethink the way they use social networks to reach customers. The intense interest and discussion engendered by this manifesto attests to the profound misgivings many of those customers now have about the networks that occupy a growing place our work, our relationships and our lives.

Those misgivings are evident in the sign-ups for networks like Ello and Diaspora; in the emergence of anonymous, private and non-persistent platforms like Secret and WhatsApp; and in the growing number of Internet users who report taking steps to obscure their digital footprint.

We have a long way to go before Ello and its ilk pose a significant threat to established players like Facebook and Twitter — if they ever get there. But companies still need to pay attention to the growing public discomfort with advertiser dominance and algorithm-driven user experiences. As Internet users are growing uncomfortable with the now-established model of “you get free social networking, we get your data and eyeballs,” businesses need to do more than tinker with their social media strategies: they need to rethink their core approach to social media itself.

That means stepping back from the relentless quest for followers, clicks, and mentions, and instead thinking about why brands got involved in social media in the first place. In its early days, the promise of the social web lay in the ability of companies to have direct and ongoing relationships with their customers — to become more responsive, more accountable and more attuned to the things their customers really cared about. Instead, companies have found a world in which their old intermediaries (broadcasters, publishers, journalists) have simply been replaced by a new set of intermediaries (social networks, bloggers).

This shift provides companies with a chance to rethink their own use of the social web; the smart ones will seize this opportunity to forge a new kind of relationship with their customers.

But because any successful relationship has to be built on trust, companies will have to begin by addressing the trust gap that has emerged out of the past five or ten years of social media marketing — a trust gap that is clearly conveyed in the Ello manifesto. That gap is about more than privacy or invasive ads: it reflects the frustration with the steady commercialization of our online interactions and spaces. Instead of elbowing their way into Ello with branded accounts and “content” that takes the place of ads, companies need to recognize that our online world needs non-commercial spaces as well as ad-friendly networks, just as the offline world has room for both libraries and bookstores. Instead of relying on algorithms and ad targeting to get dollars out of their customers’ wallets, companies need to think about the value they can offer to their customers’ online lives.

Just because advertisers are unwelcome on some parts of the social web, that doesn’t mean businesses are necessarily unwelcome, though: consumers simply want businesses to engage with them in some way that goes beyond a pitch. That could mean inviting customers into your product development process through co-creation. It could involve convening meaningful conversations on topics that resonate with your customers and your brand. It could look likepartnering with your customers to make the products they want, or offer the services they need, or help them sell their stuff to other people like them. All of these are ways to engage with your customers that align with the spirit of the social web, instead of treating it as a billboard.

But you’re not going to get that kind of engagement by moseying up to the social media drive-thru and asking for a double order of customer engagement, please. You can’t leave it to the established social networks to create the platform that helps you connect with your customers; you need to find a way to convene the conversations you want, in a context that will actually work for both you and the customers you serve. And as the sudden rise of Ello suggests, that will probably need to be a context in which your customers feel like you are treating both their data and their attention with the greatest respect.

And you can begin with your own version of the Ello manifesto:

Your customer relationships are owned by other companies — companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Every interaction you have, every customer you acquire and every ad you place is tracked, recorded and converted into data that can serve your competitors — or the social network itself. You dedicate your ad dollars, your customer relations team and your very best content creators to building a social network that somebody else controls. You are the customer, but your own customers are the product that is bought and sold. 

We believe there is a better way…We believe the social web can be a tool for customer engagement. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate what we can do together.

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Facebook Puts An End To Like-Gating. What This Update Means For Your Business.

22 Sep

You could win $5,000,000, an all-expense paid trip to Disney World, and foot massages for life! All you have to do is “like” our page to enter!

Or not.

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. Beginning November 5th, Facebook will no longer allow Pages to offer incentives in return for page likes. Here’s the official announcement:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.

Fair enough, right? Let’s break down what this means for you business:

Do you like me, or do you like me like me?

These days, Facebook should be all about quality. As with any form of marketing, it’s always more valuable to have 10 quality fans than 100 passive ones. This is the mentality Facebook is using in their new update, and we have to agree.

Bottom line: users should like your page because they actually like you.

There’s more to me than my iPad giveaway.

Since like-gating is usually used in collaboration with a contest or giveaway, many users are liking your page simply for a chance to win. Once they contest ends though, are they still attentive to your content? Probably not. In fact, you can expect many of them to drop off once they find out they aren’t the lucky winner.

Bottom line: find the people who will stick around for everything else you have to say.

Let’s keep it real, people.

Getting massive amounts of likes isn’t necessarily the key to a job well done. There are a million other ways to measure success on your social pages. Maybe it’s time to shift gears and start working on really engaging your current fan base. Or perhaps you should spend some time thinking of more abstract incentives for liking your page. For example: if you like our fitness page, you’ll be lucky enough to receive valuable tips for staying in shape during the summer.

Bottom line: You can keep incentivizing as long as you shift your perspective.

So stay calm, mark your calendars for November 5th, and keep providing quality social content. Best of luck!

5 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing Efforts are not Working

15 Sep

While many small-to-medium size business owners are reaping the benefits of using social media to generate traffic and significantly boost sales, some business owners have found that social media has shown few if any tangible results.

In my experience with my clients, I see that these business owners often make one or more of the following mistakes in their marketing efforts:

  1. Aiming at the Wrong Audience

One important advantage of social media marketing is that it enables you to target a particular, specific audience. If your campaign is not going as expected, take a close look at the type of traffic your social media efforts is generating. Perhaps you need to re-consider who you are trying to target and then find the best way to reach this particular audience.

  1. No (or Poor) Posting Plan

Simply engaging in social media for your business is not enough. You NEED A PLAN outlining what to post and when. Your posts must be helpful, interesting and engaging if you want to win and keep your audience. You also need a regular posting plan or a Content Calendar so that people know when they can expect to hear from you.

  1. Advertising Rather than Engaging

Social media is meant to be social, which means that it cannot be used solely as an advertising platform. Aside from promoting your products, you must also invite people to tell you what they think of your goods and/or services. Helpful, non-promotional information should also be posted on a regular basis. If you put the interests of your audience first, they will take note and show and interest in you and what you have to offer.

  1. Using the Wrong Platform

There are so many social media platforms to pick from that it would be very difficult for you to have an effective presence on each network. For this reason, it is imperative that you pick the platforms that will best enable you to reach your target audience. For instance, a company targeting women will want to have an active presence on Pinterest, while companies that engage in B2B business will want to create and cultivate a professional, engaging LinkedIn presence.

  1. Impatience

A lot of small-to-medium size business owners make the mistake of believing that a social media presence will immediately bring in traffic and sales. This is rarely the case. It takes time to cultivate an effective social media presence and for this presence to contribute to your company’s success. If you are not making the mistakes mentioned above but are still not seeing signs of significant growth, give it time. The growth you seek may be just around the corner.

If your social media marketing efforts are not having the results you expected, consider the five common mistakes outlined above and see if you are making one or more of them. If you find that you are doing something wrong, fix your errors and then allow time for your efforts to succeed. While social media marketing takes time, effort and consistency, it has the potential to be very successful if done right over an extended period of time. Remember: It’s quality over quantity!

Template For Success: 5 Keys to Creating A Winning Social Media Plan

8 Sep

With social networks becoming more and more ingrained in everyday business communication and gaining widespread acceptance as a marketing channel, your company needs to know how to connect with your consumer base.

So, do you have a plan around social media?

With dozens of social networks that each offer unique benefits, the natural inclination is to jump on every platform, but unless you have multiple social media managers, the most effective way to communicate is to prioritize and create a business plan around social. With a strategy, you can target your time and effort to not only show up to the social party, but build real relationships with your connections.

There is a difference between using social media, utilizing it correctly, and leveraging it for the needs and goals of your business. Studies indicate that 33% of consumers use social networks as a way they discover new brands, products or services, and if you’re not doing social media the right way, it’s really easy for a consumer to be put off and move on.

Perhaps your business has a Facebook page, but it isn’t engaging with your fans. There’s the corporate Twitter account, but it’s produced only 14 tweets in the last year. And does it make sense for your small business to be invested in Pinterest if the account has been dormant? Businesses jumping in without a plan happens more often than not because it’s simple to register with an email, choose a handle, and go through the motions.

Successful social media players have more than just a presence. They’ve not only developed a strong social media plan, but they also allot real resources to engage and grow their user base on each network.

With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, SlideShare, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and more, how do you choose which networks to plan around? It’s a common dilemma that faces thousands of business owners everyday.

Here are five important factors that will help you not only develop a social media presence but hopefully will open up new opportunities for your business.

  1. Realistic Metrics for Social Media Success

In order to achieve success, you first need to define what success will look like on social media.

Take a critical look at how you use social media now. Has it been working for you? Are you able to see any growth as a result? Do you know how to measure that growth?

 

 

Now, ask yourself what it is that you want to accomplish. Common social media goals can be enhancing customer awareness, promoting staff accomplishments, and sharing information about your company. Whatever your end goals may be, try to break them down into easily definable and measurable objectives. Be specific when you do this, so that you’ll be able to see definitively what is moving you towards completing these objectives.

As you get more of a feel for what social marketing can achieve, and what you need it to do for you, you’ll be able to refine your goals and make them more realistic. Also, this is a great time to review your overall marketing plan as you look for ways to increase your social media presence.

  1. Active and Nurtured Community

Who is reaching out to you on social and is already, organically engaging with your brand? How can you nurture and grow that community in an authentic way that also supports your team’s overall marketing efforts?

What other methods could you use to connect with your audience, and how could you link your efforts to make them more effective? Define these personas and remember that they will determine your success or failure, so make sure that you know who they are, and how to best connect with them.

  1. Content and Promotion

The Internet is a dynamic and evolving creature, which means that the content that you create for your social media has to be dynamic as well.

A common pitfall among many organizations is not having enough fresh and interesting content for social media. Strive for content that is relevant, current, and genuinely applicable to your audience today.

Plan ahead and dedicate resources for your social media efforts. It’s critical to have a content calendar to organize when you’re going to generate content and manage when the content will be pushed out.

Will you have employees who will write it, or do you plan to use freelancers? Decide who will be creating the assignments and monitoring the quality of the work, and ensure that your social media plan not only allows for regular updates and posts, but speaks the language of that particular social network.

  1. Social Networks Relevant to Your Business

Focus on specific social media networks that will most help you attract and engage your audience.

This goes hand in hand with factor #2 above—the community you will be nurturing. How does your company want to connect with current and prospective customers. Is your brand voice personal or professional? Do you have resources for a two-way conversation, or will your strategy focus on broadcasting?

 

The demographics of your base are also important here. How old are they? What is their gender? Further defining your audience will greatly help you choose the social network that works best for your audience.

  1. Open and Transparent Communication

The open-forum format of social media means your company will benefit from direct communication with your customers. In all interactions with customers on social, authenticity and transparency is key.

Allow customers to use social media to share their feedback—show appreciation for positive feedback with positive responses, and address negative feedback head-on. Don’t make the mistake of deleting negative posts. Instead, show your customers that they’ve been heard, apologize and accept responsibility, and when possible, use feedback to improve how you do business.

Make sure that whomever is in charge of social media knows how to respond, and is working closely with your internal PR team to manage these inevitable situations.

As internet advertising continues to grow—up to all 25% of the entire advertising market by 2015—it’s safe to say that social media will continue to grow dramatically.

With a social media plan, you can take that first huge step into proper use of social media. Social media marketing can not only help your business grow stronger, but when utilized correctly on the most relevant network, it will bring you closer to the the most important connections in the world of business—your customers, fans, and followers.

Facebook Tweeks Algorithum- News for SMM!

1 Sep

Another day, another Facebook algorithm change to spice up the lives of marketers, PR professionals, and social media managers everywhere.

On Monday, Facebook announced a few News Feed “improvements,” including an algorithmic penalty intended for click-bait headlines and photos with links shared in status updates or photo captions versus in Facebook’s native link preview format.

Click-baiting has recently become a popular tactic for writing headlines on Facebook, using catchy copy to entice users to click on the link without telling them a whole lot about the actual contents of the website or article. You’ve seen these go by… “and you won’t believe what happened next!” The more people who click on the link, whether they like or want to engage with the article itself or not, the more frequent and prominent the post appears on friends’ feeds.

How will Facebook identify a click-bait headline? According to Facebook, “one way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable.” That, along with the overall user engagement with the post, will factor into how many users see your content.

What can marketers do?

Optimize posts for high engagement. When you share a new piece of content, engage with users by posing questions and providing. High engagement will increase your post’s reach.

Make your website “sticky.” Once users click on your website from Facebook, you want them to stay on the site as long as possible. Attract attention with insightful information, eye-catching graphics or an easy-to-navigate design. The longer they stay, the better off you’ll be.

Get users to engage with Facebook from your website. Not all visitors to your website are coming from social media. Use Facebook sharing buttons to your advantage to encourage new visitors to share your resources or Like your brand page from your website.

Share your content from brand and personal pages alike. When it comes to organic search, brand pages have been getting the short end of the stick from Facebook for a while now. Share content on both your personal account and brand page, while also encouraging employees and your network to do the same. Your employees can be your best advocates.

Use detailed descriptions when posting links. Avoid click-baiting techniques by clearly summarizing the content you are sharing with users. You can still ask questions and engage users, but do so while remaining informative and insightful.

Facebook, love it or hate it, is the dominant social network. Adapt your strategy to their latest changes, and stay tuned to the Sala Social blog for more details!