Weekly Reading–All About Social Media

A few days ago, Kriti mentioned to me that I haven’t done a weekly reading post in a while and, since I’m taking a few days off this month (YESSSS!), I thought this would be a great opportunity to clear off some of the virtual piles of articles and research that I have been collecting. In the past several days, I’ve seen quite a few posts and articles that guide companies to on social media. I hope these tips help you advance your brand.

Brands Favor Social Shares Over Likes

Marketers have been asking consumers to Like their brands on Facebook for a long time. But Likes are the “digital grunts” of Facebook and the absolute minimum commitment you can request from a Facebook fan, according to an article in Adweek published on Monday. As Scott Monty, social media director at Force noted, “Likes, comments, shares—it goes in that order of importance.”

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm gives up to 1,300% more weight to shares than likes, affecting the viral performance of a promotion. An Eventbrite study found that Facebook shares are worth $4.15 each when it comes to event ticket sales, whereas retweets are worth $1.85 and LindkedIn shares are worth $.92.

Some are calling “shares” the new “retweets” because they indicate that people endorse your content to their networks and are willing to link their names to it. Ultimately, shares generate real engagement.

Social MediaMake Facebook Marketing More Mobile-Friendly

About 680 million Facebook users access the channel from mobile devices, so it is important to make your marketing mobile-friendly. Here are five things to try to improve your results:

  1. Target sponsored stories to mobile users. You can pay for a Sponsored Story targeted to mobile users when you have an important update and it will show up in your fans’ news feeds and networks on their mobile devices.
  2. Make sure your email is mobile-friendly. MailChimp reports that 40% of Americans who use mobile devices read email on them. Therefore, it is important to ensure your promotions can easily be viewed on mobile devices. Econsultancy discovered that people close emails immediately when they are not optimized for mobile. You should also keep subject lines short, use direct calls to action and consider special offers for mobile users only.
  3. Integrate mobile with your other efforts. Promote your Facebook page in stores with signage that feature QR codes, offer whisper codes on Facebook and provide incentives to check in at stores.
  4. Make sure your Facebook apps have mobile capability. Some apps for Facebook won’t work on mobile unless the developer uses “smart” URLs that detect whether the user is on a mobile device or desktop.
  5. Test everything. You want to confirm on multiple devices that your images load quickly, your links work and your message appear correctly.

How to Grow Your Business with a Branded Channel on YouTube

While it is probably too much to expect for an SMB company video to go viral, that is no reason why you shouldn’t use video to show your brand in a fresh and energetic way. If you decide to go ahead and tap into the power of YouTube, here are some tips from 60 Second Marketer.

  • Start a branded channel. Take the time to add elements that will advance your company’s branding rather than using a generic look. Create a layout and add some art, as well as website and social media links. Complete the About Us section to tell visitors more about your company.
  • Don’t neglect the search benefits. YouTube can help your search engine optimization by building out organic content, especially if your videos get a lot of views.
  • Encourage user participation. If you don’t have the budget for slick corporate videos, encourage customers to submit videos about how they use your products and services. You can sponsor contests or offer other incentives for those who participate.
  • Try but don’t overdo it. Rather than displaying all the qualities of what you think will make a video go viral, stay true to your company and principles. The odds are much better you’ll get the kind of results that matter—trust in your company among an audience that can actually use your products.
  • Produce quality content regularly. Plan to publish content on a regular schedule rather than set up the channel and ignore it for the next year or more. To build frequency, you can also share videos of other people and companies that add value to your brand presence.
  • Keep an eye on your channel. Use analytics and test videos to see what works to get the best return on your efforts.

How to Use Pinterest to Build Trust and Loyalty

Social Media Examiner shared four ways to use Pinterest to make connections and provide value to customers.

  1. Tell your company’s story. Your history will help establish credibility and build a personal connection with Pinterest followers. It enables you to illustrate how your company is unique and imply a sense of stability and growth. Some ideas on what to pin include: logos that have evolved over time, storefront or website changes, different products or packaging or pictures of the company leadership. You can also feature images of current employees to show who is behind the scenes serving customers today and photos of your team at various events.
  2. Recognize customers. Feature images of them using your products or their pins to build loyalty.
  3. Make your boards a resource. Link to other websites and blogs to inspire and instruct your customers.
  4. Verify pins before you share them. Click on images and only repin them if they go to the original sources of the images.

Wait, Social Media Isn’t Free?

Although there is no cost to set up pages and profiles in social media, you can’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other channels. Drew Neisser writes about how it requires constant work and commitment in the following ways:

  • Staffing. Internal team members and outside pros are needed to help you take full advantage of social media.
  • Monitoring. Free tools work well when you first get started but, when you need global coverage and/or sophisticated reports, you’ll need to transition to paid monitoring tools.
  • Conversation management. As soon as customer service interactions increase in volume, the free versions of tools become less effective. Instead, you should convert to paid tools with ticketing systems to respond and track interactions across multiple customer touch points.
  • Content development. Content that will differentiate you and your company takes time to develop and photos, illustrations and infographics cost money to create. And if you graduate into Facebook apps and YouTube videos, the investment grows.
  • Paid media. The reality is that your everyday posts on Facebook will reach only about 16% of your fan base at best. To reach a greater percentage, you’ll need to pay Facebook.

The bottom line: despite the investment, social media is still extremely cost-effective for the SMB marketer.

Marketing as the Social Business Spark

As Amber Naslund notes in her guest post on Marketo’s blog, the expectations of marketing have changed and become more crucial than ever before because of social media. Today, marketers are charged with creating strong impressions and connections with customers online, building engagement initiatives, developing content to educate and inform, and establishing relationship with prospects that will translate to sales and profits. Essential to our ability to meet these objectives is an investment in the operation and cultural foundations of companies so that we can support and delight customers all the time and in whatever way they touch our organizations.

Because engagements don’t start and stop with clever marketing campaigns, there is a ripple effect that requires a shift in thinking and resourcing. Social media has implications about how we support customers long-term, how employees work together and how we communicate. That means changing the way we work. Consequently, the insides of our businesses are evolving as much as the outsides.

What is most exciting is that marketing is the catalyst for change in areas beyond direct marketing, lead generation, branding and other traditional promotional categories. As a result, we need to be social business professionals, aligned with human resources, information technology, sales and all other customer touch points. With social media, we can usher in an era in which our companies are more connected, adaptable and customer-focused.

What tips have you read for social media lately and how have you put them into practice? What are the advantages that SMBs have over larger companies when using social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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