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Five MORE Social Media Tips To IGNORE

Social-Media-Marketing

“There is no such thing as a social media ‘guru’, nor a ‘maven’ nor a ‘ninja’ nor any of the other silly terms people are using. There are those who understand social media as a tool for marketing, those who *think* they understand and those who do not.” – Transition Marketing

In our previous post on March 14, 2013 (HERE) we took a slightly different tact on the traditional social media propaganda by REFUTING several of the dominant social media “tips” presently in circulation. In today’s post we will continue with a thorough examination of FIVE MORE TERRIBLE SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS.

Employee-Social-Media-Gagging1) Avoid Allowing Your Employees on Social Media.

This is a ridiculous and asinine request. For one, attempting to police this is a tremendous waste of time. Even if you block Social Media on their work computers, they have smart phones. The resources, time and ill-will that this breeds isn’t worth it. Try to block or regulate their cell phone usage at work, they will still visit those sites on their breaks and at home. Forbid any use of your brand or business name by your employees and they will simply create fake profiles.

All you do by creating an iron-fisted regime is breed sore feelings, hurt office morale and damage work relationships. You send a clear message that you don’t trust them, create a hostile office environment and what is worse, you turn your back on an incredible asset.

Your employees are your company. They ARE your brand. This is not just a cliché corporate catch-phrase. It is a solid truth about the world we now live in. Social Media has changed the face of branding. Every consumer, every employee, every individual now has the option and the power to share their experiences with thousands and even millions. Businesses cannot muzzle the voice of the general public and there has been a significant shift in the way that businesses now market themselves (More on that HERE)

Your employees (just like your customers) have a voice and a reach that can further spread your brand and marketing message, for good or for ill. One way or the other your employees will talk about your business. To fight the lost battle of “policing” their voices, instead so rather than trying to encourage them is folly. Instead give them guidelines for good use and encourage them to share positive stories and experiences.

Allow them to be “Brand Advocates” and put their voices to use.

2) Ignore Negative Feedback On Social Media.

Oops, someone has gone and said something bad about your brand. There is no going back now, it exists and it is plastered on the internet. Whether it reaches dozens or thousands there is no going back once it has been posted.

Many brands are encouraged to ignore negative comments, to not risk entering a hostile conversation to avoid it. However by not responding to angry comments online you are allowing it to simply sit and fester and worst-case scenario it could quickly take on a life of its own.

Mistakes happen so when you make them, admit to them. People are far more gracious when one owns up, apologizes and tried to make things better. Attempting to ignore, avoid or argue them will tarnish your brand. Admit mistakes when necessary and then detail how you will address them.

Our go-to method when negativity strikes, is to address the comment immediately and take that conversation offline.

For example, if someone tweets negatively about you, ask them to DM, email or call you with the specifics. Then work with them to resolve the issue outside of the public’s eye. Once a resolution has been reached, take it back to the mainstream and tweet the resolution back to them as an affirmation.

The public doesn’t need to know every detail, just that is was addressed and made right.

3) Address EVERY Negative Comment.Dont-Avoid-Comments

This may seem like we are suddenly contradicting ourselves, however there are certain negative comments that exist for no other reason then to get a rise out of you. Known as “trolling“, the concept of provoking reaction through negative or even shocking content has unfortunately become quite a popular online. This is more specific to big business and well established brands, however it pertains to all of us.

Beware of those who are simply trying to further their own agenda’s and gain visibility by pushing you for responses to their comments. On social media, as in life, there is a time to talk and a time to walk away. Learn to discern the trolls from those consumers with real concerns.

4) Delete Negative Comments or Disable Comments Entirely.

Social Media is about conversations, about sharing and discussing. Disabling comments runs contrary to this entire premise.

People are going to share experiences with or without your Facebook page. They have their own page, their own profile and their own audience. By ALLOWING them to post their thoughts and feedback on YOUR page you can monitor and address the feedback. If you’re smart you may even learn a few things to change your business for the better.

Responding to customers, involving them and discussing with them is in fact what social media is all about. Simply posting content over and over, without ever establishing customer relationships is a dated practice meant for television, billboards and radio. Online “Marketing 2.0” is all about creating consumer advocates through online discussions via social media.

As for deleting comments, do so and you will have created a consumer enemy for life. Nothing will infuriate a consumer-with-a-voice more, than attempting (poorly) to silence them. They will simply find other avenues and lambaste you even worse!

Delete-Posts

5) When Making A Mistake, Deleting The Post Will Fix It.

This is absolutely horse-feathers and rubbish. Let us reiterate, once a comment has been made and posted, it will not cease to exist. Whether you posted it or a consumer did it is there.

“Love and life may pass, but Facebook posts are forever”.

There is no way to completely erase a post and no way to stop viewers from screen-shotting it and sharing it with the world. Think about what you say before you say it. And admit to any mistakes you make (apologize when necessary).

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Three MORE Social Media Marketing Avenues For Small Business

Three MORE Social Marketing Avenues For Small Business.

In our first post we discussed three of the primary avenues for small businesses to get involved with social media marketing. We outlined Facebook, Twitter and Blogging and explained the pro’s involved in leveraging them for inexpensive brand exposure.

Today we will be continuing with that theme as we dive into yet another three avenues that can provide excellent marketing coverage for small business.

1. LinkedIn.

When discussing LinkedIn one of the most common descriptions we have heard for it is “Facebook for Professionals”. LinkedIn is an online social network designed distinctly for business professionals. Profiles consist of resumes, cover letters, references and so forth. It is an excellent place to showcase yourself as a professional.

LinkedIn also hosts a bevy of job opportunities, easily searched based on industry, category, background etc. Many businesses use LinkedIn to post job openings and to head hunt top-notch talent. It currently plays host to over 50 million users in 50 different countries.

More than that, LinkedIn also offers “Business Pages”. A tool that, much like Facebook, allows businesses to operate pages centered around their brand. LinkedIn is quickly growing and has been marked as one of the top places to generate sales leads.

We discuss more on LinkedIn here: LinkedIn Dominates Rivals For Lead Generation

Cold: Sign-on and generate a personal LinkedIn profile. As with an Social Media platform, it is important to understand the tools and resources available. Take a look at how connections with other individuals are established, explore some of the job postings, and check to see what your competitors are doing – do they have a business page?

LinkedIn hosts’ “Groups”. These groups consist of business professionals from similar backgrounds. There are groups for Graphic Designers, Social Media Marketers, Salesmen, Mechanics… just about anything. These groups can be a good place to start, try joining one or two and getting a feel for how it all operates. This is where to begin developing connections.

  • Note that there are often multiple groups for the various categories. Some of these groups have little or no activity. LinkedIn will display the “Activity Level” for each group, allowing you to see before joining. 
  • LinkedIn is good about policing spam, but it is not unusual to see users abusing these groups by posting redundant or spam links – don’t worry, these are easy to weed out and the users don’t last long.

Medium: As you get comfortable with LinkedIn, start working with more of the tools. Use the search option to find other professionals, or potential clients and begin inviting them to connect via LinkedIn. Remember DO NOT SPAM people, but be genuine in your intent for connecting.

For example, when we seek to connect with a potential client we will communicate something to this effect: “Hi there ________ we are a small business marketing group here in the Okanagan, and we are looking to establish connections with business professionals like yourself, would you be interested?”

Note that there is no cheesy sales pitch, just a polite explanation of who we are and what we are doing. We will often do some research on the individual or business first and include a reference to their specific industry or background – this helps to breed familiarity.

LinkedIn is a great intermediary spot to connect with people. There is little risk and less obligation when connecting – this offers an advantage, as people are more willing to connect.

For this reason it can make sense to use LinkedIn as a place to locate and generate first impressions with potential clients and businesses.  Once you have found these potential leads and generated some awareness and recognition of who you are, you can begin to generate actual leads. Visit their place of business, invite them to an event – whatever sales tactics you use, you now have a target, a direction and a doorway to potential sales.

Get out and build those connections.

Warm: LinkedIn offers a diverse array of tools that often go missed by typical users. Encourage your customers, clients or vendors to provide an online “recommendation” on your profile. These recommendations can quickly set you apart from other professionals and competitors. It is all about reputation after all.

Get more active with the various groups available and explore starting your own. The more active you are within the online communities the more buzz will be generated around you.

  1. Join in group conversations and make yourself known.
  2. Answer questions and share educated opinions.
  3. Start establishing yourself as a leader on specific topics within these groups.
  4. Begin your own conversations and invite others to pitch in their two cents.

Long term it may make good sense to create a business page for your brand. These take a high level of resources to maintain and succeed in, but the end results can prove well worth the while.

Above all, and as with all Social Marketing, remember that you are a voice of your brand as a whole. Ensure consistent and measured communications – never misrepresent your brand!

2. Connecting With Other Blogs.

Time is valuable. It is the one thing we all run short on. As such it may seem backwards to take that time and spend it on other people’s blogs. However consider this: Every time you offer an insightful comment or share with others, you are promoting yourself and your brand to them. This establishes recognition (visibility) and credibility.

Remember, people are not going to flock to you – you need to go to them. Getting involved on THEIR blogs and profiles is a one of the primary means of doing this.

Cold: Find 3 -4 blogs that are relevant to you and your business. The best way of doing this, is to use the “Reader” option on your particular blog site. The “Reader” option will allow you to search the site’s database of blogs for specific terms. Another option is to explore specific terms via Google as the best blogs SHOULD always be near the top of their lists.

When determining which blogs make sense consider the following:

  1. Is the blog highly active? When was the last post? What amount of time is lapsing between posts? Look for high activity bloggers.
  2. Is the content relevant to what you, yourself will be sharing? Even if the blog states it is about one thing, that does not mean the content will match.
  3. What type of audience does that blog currently have? (Most blogs will display how many followers are currently subscribed). The higher the number of followers, the larger the audience that will see your comments.
  4. Are they generating a lot of comments already? If so, feel free to also comment on existing these comments.

Now that you have a handful of blogs to follow, get involved. Share educated opinions and participate in the conversations. One surefire way to generate interest, is to include personal experience, stories or case studies.

Medium: Use these interactions to develop relationships with the various authors. Since beginning our blog, we have established some great relations with PR, Marketing and Branding folks all over the globe. These relationships span other profiles as well. Many of the bloggers we have gotten involved with, have connected with us on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Warm: Developing these relationships as well as brand credibility and trust brings other perks as well. Once you are comfortable with the various authors consider asking them to allow you to guest post on their profile.

Guest posts are a common occurrence with many blogs. This positions you as a trusted source and places you in front of an expanded audience.

Make sure to communicate and agree on a topic ahead of time. Expect to provide a draft of your article well in advance, with time built-in for their review.

In return consider offering them a similar opportunity. Allow them to guest post on your blog. This provides them with the same perks and is a great way to draw further attention to your own efforts.

Remember it is all about reputation, it may take some time to develop any sort of renown, but keep at it and the perks shall come.

3. Comments and Conversations About Your Company.

It is important to note one thing: “Whether you are on social media or not, people already there and they are talking about your brand”

“It is becoming apparent to many brands, how important it actually is to maintain a presence on Social Media, if not to promote, then to monitor.” – Ben Erickson

Like it or not, your business and brand will be discussed on Social Media, can you afford to not be a part of those conversations?

Cold: Establish a presence on the main Social Media sites. Twitter and Facebook are two great places to begin. Familiarize yourself with the built-in tools available for tracking and monitoring. Both of these platforms (and many others out there) provide easy to use tools and searches to track what is being said about what.

  • Facebook now provides a real-time search engine. The search box located on the top right hand corner of any Facebook page. To start, search for your company’s name to see who is talking about you. Facebook is already planning integration with “Bing” which long-term will allow you to search for Facebook updates directly from the Bing search engine.
  • Twitter currently allows users to search for real-time results on just about anything (if you do not have a profile with Twitter, you can visit their homepage). As with Facebook, try searching your business name to see what pops up. You may also want to search words and terms that are relevant to your brand or business.

Additionally, Bing catalogues Tweets and Google has plans to roll out something similar.

Once you have a bead on the conversations taking place, make sure to join them where necessary. Don’t shy away from discussions and above all be honest. The worst thing that can happen to a brand on Social Media channels, is for them to lose their reputation as being truthful and reliable.

For an example of Social Media catastrophes resulting from questionable conduct visit either of these posts on the Chick-Fil-A fiasco:

Medium: Begin understanding the outside resources available for monitoring and tracking.

  1. Programs like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Seesmic all come with built-in search, catalogue and monitoring tools. These systems not only track Twitter, but can be used for Facebook and LinkedIn also,
  2. Google Alerts is another option. Google Alerts updates you free of charge, via email anytime results you wish to track, have been “Googled”.  You may wish to track competitors names, your business name and/or specific search terms related to your industry. Anytime Google adds something to its index that mentions any of the terms being tracked, you will receive an email advising, and providing a link to that content. Google Alerts can be set up for blogs, websites, videos, images, updates or groups searches.
  3. Google Analytics (or similar programs) are the next step. Keep tabs on the results in your web analytics in order to measure your impact. We ourselves like the free Google Analytics tool. This free tool provides detailed and insightful information pertaining to your website traffic, meta-tags, search terms etc. It is a great way to gauge SEO and measure your online marketing impact. Google Analytics also allows you to attach specific tracking tags to your various online marketing campaigns. This is crucial to getting an accurate measurement of your marketing results.

Once again, the purpose for monitoring is to get involved in the discussions. Once you have ascertained who is saying what, get your voice into the mix.

Hootsuite Display Screen

Warm: As you gain experience you may want to consider consolidating your various monitoring strategies into one. Several applications exist for this purpose.

  • truVOICE provides excellent keyword monitoring for social media platforms.
  • Radian6 collects information from Social Media sites, dissects it, and provides easy to understand metrics related to your brand.

These just scrape the top of the proverbial iceberg, and many other programs exist to measure, monitor and record.

Monitoring of course is simply the means of accurately determining who to engage, on what topics and when. You cannot be everywhere at once. It will take some time to determine which conversations to tackle, but as you negotiate the various Social Media sites it will become easier to do.

Experience and time will hone the edges of your communications. The key is to remember that you speak for something bigger than yourself, you speak for a brand (even if that brand is JUST YOURSELF 🙂 ).

Brand Representation on Social Media.

These are all no more than tools to enable you to broadcast, communicate and position your brand before the masses. In order to succeed with these tools, there is a dire need to understand the big picture involved in BRANDING.

We have discussed branding a few times in the past and you can view our thoughts, and those of others we respect, on the following links:

The key to remember, is that regardless of how many profiles you choose to use for your brand, they all need to be CONSISTENT.

In other words, no matter where your brand can be seen or heard, the audience should see and hear the same thing.

Your Twitter presence should match your Facebook presence, which should match your Website, which should match your Business Cards, which should match your Brochures, which should match you Office Space…. and so on.

Branding Consistency pertains to both:

  • Aesthetics (how your profiles look)
  • Communications (what your profiles say)

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE OF CONSISTENCY TO BRANDING! (Yes this is all caps, yes we are shouting – this is important).

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

WordPress Finesse! Part 1: Taglines

WordPress is a terrific tool for businesses of all sizes, shapes and colours. Whether you are simply hosting a blog, or utilizing it as a website, the profiles available on WP are highly versatile.

We ourselves enjoy parousing the wide variety of articles, writing styles and perspectives available. In our WordPress travels, however, we have noticed that many users are not utilizing all of the tools and resources available.

For instance, did you know that the little bit of text below your blog title that says “just another WordPress site”  can be adjusted to say whatever you wish (in our case we chose “Our Place For Discussing Small Business Marketing & Branding”).

Here is how to do it:

1. Starting at the home screen when you first log in.

2. In the top right hand corner, hover over your NAME  (in our case “Ben”) until the drop down menu appears.

3. On the FIRST drop down menu, click the BOTTOM OPTION, which should also be your blog title (in our case “Transition Marketing”).

4. You should now be on the MAIN READER screen for your blog. Now go to the top left hand corner and hover over your BLOG NAME (in our case Transition Marketing).

5. On the drop down menu click on “CUSTOMIZE”.

6. This will bring you to your “PROFILE OPTIONS” menu.

7. Click on the “SITE TITLE & TAGLINE” option.

8. On the second line you can now adjust your “TAGLINE” from “Just another wordpress site” to something far spiffier.

Very easy to do, while you are here experiment with some of the other options. Adjust your colours, your profile format and even your navigation. Play with it until you find something you like and that you feel will appeal to readers.

Above all else remember to have fun, and blog with care.

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Why Your Businesses Blog Stinks!

Contrary to popular belief. Bloggers like you and I simply are not as interesting as we think.

Blogging? More Like Boring!

One of the single most important epiphanies I have had, is that not everything that I write is fascinating to others. Writers, of all manner of materials, like to think that people will hang off their every word.

This is an untruth.

In fact we in the blogging community are not that interesting.

More specifically, we in the marketing and business end of the blogging community are not that interesting.

Too many times I have encapsulated my thoughts in 1500 words, when 500 would have done. We get caught providing too many details in an effort to make ourselves understood. We double and triple check our thoughts, insecure that readers may find fault in us, or that our customers may misunderstand.

Clarity matters.

So does simplicity.

The blog world, specifically the business blog world, has its share of discerning readers. Nonetheless the primary importance of a blog is that it be read and the average viewer is going to care less about syntax and more about the crux of the content.

Readers want to understand your key points.

They want to understand them quickly.

The natural habit of our society is to skim, to glance, to look for a hook to grab our interest and reel us in. Many modern professional authors have moved away from writing in the classical literary form. If you compare Tolstoys “War & Peace” to Cormac  McCarthy’s “The Road”  you can see the difference in form.

Studies indicate that this tendency to skim arises from several areas:

  • The internet contains such a heavy amount of content, people do not want to take too much time attempting to discern whether to commit to a specific article.
  • Blogs generally exist to communicate a specific idea – often a large one. As such, they can be intense to read. Viewers need something to pull them in, few are willing to commit to a long read.
  • Blogs are almost always an optional read – like a newspaper and unlike a contract. There is no necessity for anyone to read then.
  • Too often in an attempt to create “skimmable” content, posts are structured in a ridged and predictable form and simply do not work.

One of the single best tips we have ever come across for blogging successfuly, is to write in an “AP” (Associated Press) style. While a good start, that is not quite enough. Here are a few tips to assist you along your way.

Boredom affects 10 in 10 Canadians. Don’t let your readers look like this.

Tips To Healthy Blogging:

1. Understand AP Style & Apply It.

Why? Because AP style is the gold standard for print journalism.

The AP style appeals to the “reader with no time”. It is intended to convey clear information concisely and quickly. The opening paragraphs immediately provide the key concept, with following paragraphs subsequently examining the specifics.

This is, by far, the first thing every blogger should commit to understanding.

Here are a few quick AP style tips (Source):

  1. Numbers:  One through nine are generally spelled out, while 10 and above are generally written as numerals. Example: He carried five books for 12 blocks.
  2. Percentages: Percentages are always expressed as numerals, followed by the word “percent.” Example: The price of gas rose 5 percent.
  3. Ages: Ages are always expressed as numerals. Example: He is 5 years old.
  4. Dollar Amounts: Dollar amounts are always expressed as numerals, and the “$” sign is used. Example: $5, $15, $150, $150,000, $15 million, $15 billion, $15.5 billion
  5. Street Addresses: Numerals are used for numbered addresses. Street, Avenue and Boulevard are abbreviated when used with a numbered address, but otherwise are spelled out. Route and Road are never abbreviated. Example: He lives at 123 Main St. His house is on Main Street. Her house in on 234 Elm Road.
  6. Dates: Dates are expressed as numerals. The months August through February are abbreviated when used with numbered dates. March through July are never abbreviated. Months without dates are not abbreviated. “Th” is not used. Example: The meeting is on Oct. 15. She was born on July 12. I love the weather in November.
  7. Job Titles: Job titles are generally capitalized when they appear before a person’s name, but lowercase after the name. Example: President George Bush. George Bush is the president.
  8. Film, Book & Song Titles: Generally these are capitalized and placed in quotation marks. Do not use quote marks with reference books or the names of newspapers or magazines. Example: He rented “Star Wars” on DVD. She read “War and Peace.”

2. What Is In A Name?

The name of your post is crucial. As with the subject line in an email, the title will make or break blog success.

If it does not sound interesting, why would anyone bother? No one has the time to waste.

Consider the target audience when naming the article – what would grab their attention?

3. The First & The Last.

Boring-blogging-social-media-transition-marketing

Keep your blog quick, sharp and fresh. Avoid creating the comatose!

We have all done it. When skimming content, we avoid large paragraphs, paying attention only to the first and last sentence. If those two sentences do not do their job, then the rest of the content is lost.

4. Keep It Short.

Short paragraphs are more likely to be read. As above, the average reader is not going to pay much attention to anything but the first and last sentence, the shorter the paragraph, the easier – and therefore more likely – it is to be read.

5. Poke The Bear (Provoke).

Controversy and conflict generally generate interest. When writing, position your content in a way that takes a side, or questions a situation. Create that emotional connection with readers – they may disagree with you, but they have to read it to do so.

  • Go ahead and take a side on issues.
  • Force readers to consider the new, or the other side of a situation
  • Provide conclusive opinion and provide the evidence to back it up. Engage your audience in thought and conversation.
  • Ask the hypothetical’s – What if Google really is evil? What if Government is in big businesses back pocket? What if “Hello Kitty” is a metaphor for classical neo-nazism?

Practice always makes perfect, or some derivation of it.

6. Punctuate For Effect.

When punctuating consider what will grab attention. Draw attention to specific key phrases and portions with your Bold, Italic and Underline options. Adjust font size and font style, however do so in moderation.

Alternatively, question marks naturally draw attention. It engages readers and indicates an area of importance.

These tips won’t make you a top notch blogger, they do however, offer the stepping stones for success. To paraphrase Paul in his letter to the Philippians “What you have learned and heard, put into practice”

 

Transition Marketing Services Social Media Small Business

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists