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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.

Hootsuite Conversations – Beta Testing

Hootsuite recently introduced the Beta version of its new Conversation tools. The Conversations tool is the newest addition to the already formidable Hootsuite array. A Social Media interaction platform developed by our fellow Canadian Ryan Holmes. Below we share their formal statement and description of the new Conversations software (pulled directly from Hootsuite site):

Hootsuite Conversations:

“New HootSuite Conversations allows teams and organizations to communicate internally without leaving the HootSuite dashboard. Invite anyone to chat within teams or to the entire company, push messages from social networks to conversations within HootSuite and discuss, like, retweet, even broadcast further to members’ own social networks.”

Hootsuite introduces its own messaging system, intended to enable quick communication and sharing between Hootsuite users.

Simplify Communications:

With HootSuite Conversations you can converse with anyone you work with, collaborate with, and share messaging with, easily and intuitively with the in-dash tool. Bring everyone together, get out of your inbox and eliminate time consuming email threads.

*Plus! Enjoy the option to pop out the conversation window so you can stay on top of communications while in other workspaces on your desktop*

The Hootsuite Conversations interface is meant to allow more efficient sharing of current Social Media developments and conversations.

Internal Conversations & External Engagement

Send social messages to internal conversations for teams to discuss and share. Teams can then discuss response strategies, communicate approved messaging and encourage others to broadcast across their own social networks by replying, retweeting, or posting to other social networks.

HootSuite Conversations allows you to add anyone to your conversation – Free.

Collaborate With Everyone

HootSuite Conversations allows you to add anyone to your conversation – free – in order to discuss social messages and receive approved messaging. Communicate with your team, department or entire organization, without leaving the HootSuite dashboard. Adding collaborators is also easy as HootSuite Conversations allows you to import contacts from gmail, and recognizes your colleagues online.

What Transition Marketing Services Has To Say:

Hootsuite Conversations is similar in many aspects to other messenger services in existence, with the exception that it allows direct sharing of conversations, comments, posts etc. to others within your team. The addition of this tool may take some getting used to, but its seamless connectivity with the existing Hootsuite platform is sure to win it some fans.

Hootsuite is a terrific platform. It is easy to use, budget friendly and provides the tools necessary for businesses big or small, to monitor their Social Media efforts. We ourselves use it and, with very few exceptions, recommend it to our clients.

The new Conversations tool is in Beta, which means there will be a few bugs left to iron out, but overall we like what we see.  If you are not already familiar with Hootsuite, we recommend taking it for a whirl. See how it connects with your Social Platforms, monitor the feeds and test posting from it. If you like it, check out the Conversations tool, and let us know what you think!

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.

Three Social Media Marketing Avenues For Small Business

Three Social Marketing Avenues For Small Business.

Small businesses are just that – small, with limited resources. When dealing with small business marketing, branding and advertising one needs to be able to maximize overall exposure and consumer impact, at minimal costs.

Social Media provides the tooling and resources to do just that. Social Media has given businesses an unprecedented means to reach the masses with little or no overhead. However it does require careful focused planning. Do not make the mistake of presuming that it is enough to have a Social Media presence. Leveraging it for marketing and brand value requires more than haphazard attempts.

“The thing about Social Media that frustrates marketers to no end is that you can’t buy attention… ….What you’ll do instead if you’re just four people, [is ask] how can we amaze them? That change in posture, that change in attitude is the single biggest shift, that’s going on the Internet right now” – Seth Godin

In this post we will outline three key ways that small business operators can begin to utilize Social Media to broadcast their business and create brand exposure. To keep things fun, we have broken each tip into three categories (Cold, Medium & Warm) based on the steps to take in relation to expertise and technical marketing know-how.

3 Social Media Marketing Tips

As with all Marketing, success is determined by setting clear goals, implementing processes and then measuring results. It is our recommendation that, prior to establishing any of the below efforts, one determines first what their goals are. Only by knowing fully what is being sought, can one measure their success.

1. Facebook

If you ask 10 different businesses what their feelings are on Facebook, you will likely get 10 different answers. Many small businesses are adopting Facebook – the problem however, is that few understand WHY.

The fact is that Facebook is a low-cost tool, that when used PROPERLY, can engage consumers, promote brands and drive business.

Social Media is just that – SOCIAL and as such the marketing and branding endeavors on it need to be as well. Facebook is a means of SOCIALLY engaging consumers on the behalf of a brand and recent studies indicate it is doing a great job. This study by Mashable, indicated that around 50% of consumers actually value a brand’s Facebook page MORE than their website.

If that isn’t enough reason to look at Facebook seriously, then consider this:

  1. Facebook now has over 300 million registered users.
  2. 87% of people like brands on Facebook.
  3. Of those people, 82% state that Facebook is a good means of interacting with those brands.
  4. Of those people, 35% feel that brands listen to them more on Facebook than on a website.
  5. 75% of people state they feel more connected to a brand via Facebook.
  6. 69% of people have “Liked” a brand because their friend has.

Let us repeat, “SOCIAL media” is just that – SOCIAL! and as you can see from these recent statistics, Facebook offers brands a large-scale opportunity to engage customers, both current and potential.

Put another way: “Business Success” requires “Branding” which requires “Engagement” which is made possible by “Social Media”.

Cold: Sign up to Facebook and secure a Facebook Page name for your business or brand. Note that you want to create a “Business Page” and not a “User Profile” for your business. Operating a brand or business persona under a personal profile breaches Facebooks Terms and that is a very poor way to start showcasing your brand

Have a look at other brands, including competitors and see what they are doing. Have a look at how many “Likes” they have and view their posts to see how they are engaging customers. For more on Facebook Pages, primarily setting up your profile for success, visit our previous posts:

  1. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Profile Cover Images
  2. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Tweaking The Little Things

Medium: Succeeding on any Social Media platform is all about socializing and engaging your audience. Post articles that they are interested in, try to include images whenever possible and provide a reason for your targets to tune in.

  • Posts must be relevant to your business, brand and industry.
  • They should be developed with the specific’s of your target audience in mind.

Warm: When posting as your business page, you are representing your brand as a whole. An understanding of branding, brand philosophy, brand promise and brand image is crucial to achieving long-term and expanded Social Marketing success. Posts need to be specifically built to represent the overall brand image of the business, but also engaging for the specific body of customers that are being targeted.

Side Note: You may also look at the Facebook Ad’s option. It is a paid service and allows you to custom tailor advertising to be displayed only to specific targets based on the information plugged into their individual profiles.

2. Twitter

This is one of our personal favorites. It is quick paced, thanks in part to the 140 character limit on posts (tweets), and provides incredible opportunity for exposure. As of July of this year there are 500 million registered profiles with 180 million active users.

Twitter allows brands to freely communicate, either en mass or directly to other twitter users across the globe. The simple “hashtag” (#) system allows one to easily find other industry relevant users and content. It also enables a brand to build in specific search terms related to posts. This in turn adds to a brands ability to promote its association with specific services or ideas.

For a more few selling points on Twitter visit our previous posts:

Cold: We recommend signing up for Twitter asap and establishing a twitter account for your brand or business. Begin dabbling and take a look at the “Discover” tab to get an idea of how hashtags work and how best to connect with users pertaining to your business.

When signing on for a profile, Twitter will prompt you to find five users to follow, based on your interests and background. It then prompts you to find five more. This will give you a good idea as to where to start.

Spend some time searching different terms and users. Familiarize yourself with the type of content and the types of communications being shared. Search various terms related to your industry. Have a look, see who is already out there. Search out potential competitors and do some research. Simply put, wade into the water and get comfortable.

Medium: Once you are comfortable with the tools and how to use them, begin tweeting. Tweets are 140 character posts on Twitter. Keep your tweets relevant to your brand and industry, but ensure they are creative and engaging. You want to position your brand as accessible to the consumer audience, but also as leader on specific subjects or within a specific industry.

Begin connecting with other users. Using the “Discover” tools, find other users, whether brands or individuals, that make sense to connect with. These connections are an excellent way to spread your communications, generate increased exposure and grow your online presence. They are also a good source of other industry related information that you and your brand may profit from.

Warm: Maximizing your presence on Twitter will require more advanced tools. You will need to familiarize yourself with desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Hootsuite and Twitterfall. These programs provide increased flexibility and control over your overall Twitter strategy.

  • They enable pre-defined searches – crucial for monitoring specific keywords and names, including your own.
  • They allow pre-scheduling of tweets, which in turn allows your brand to maintain a more consistent presence with far less labour.
  • They equip users to better monitor trends, and communications.
  • They also allow for more accurate measurement of “impressions” – or users touched by your tweets.

Another useful tool to explore will be Twitters “Lists” resource. Creating “Lists” or groupings of users based on specific will help you to keep tabs on topics and subjects, without the hassle of weeding through thousands of followers.

The primary concern for any and all Social Media Marketing is maintaining consistency to the brand image and promise. As an individual moving forward with a Social Brand development – this is key and must be kept in mind at all times.

Image source: smashingmagazine.com

3. Blogging

Despite the ever-changing and advancing world of Social Media, Blogging continue to be play a strong role in brand and business marketing.

1. Blogging is a great way to supply consumers with information, services and resources all centered around your brand.

2. The content and linking can contribute greatly to increased SEO to your website.

3. Hosting a blog on industry related topics positions your brand as a leader.

Cold: Begin hosting a blog under your brand or business name. Several sites provide blog hosting for free including WordPress, Blogger and Blogsome. This sites will also allow you to convert your blog into a full website URL should you choose at a later date to do so.

Many of these sites offer easy to use, step by step instructions to establish a basic blog profile and it should not be too difficult to set up on your own.

Alternatives like Posterous and Tumblr also exist, although may not be the ideal choice for a beginner business related blog.

Our preference has been WordPress, however we also host a profile on Tumblr. At the end of the day each business is best off doing their own homework and determining which profile makes the most sense for them. Remember that hosting on multiple sites quickly diminishes time and resources.

Medium: Many web providers will allow you to transfer the blog hosting right to your own website. In the case of WordPress you can easily transfer it over to your website, thus increasing control over the content and aesthetics.

Stale Blogs are bad.

As you begin to work with the blog, you will want to maintain fresh content and posts. It is wise to post new articles once a week or more. Articles must pertain to your brand or business – remember that they are intended to position you as a leader in your industry. Keep it fresh and keep it relevant.

For more on developing engaging blog content, visit our article on “Blogging Tips”

Familiarize yourself with “tags” and how to use them. These tags will assist consumers in finding you and your blog. Sites like WordPress allow you to punch in desired “tags” and terms before publishing the article. Make use of them.

Warm: You have established a blog and begun maintaining it. Time to up the ante. To increase exposure and develop and audience, one needs to focus on CONTENT. Determine what your blog is intended to do. If it is to position you as a leader on all things “Interior Design”, then create content related to that field. Whatever your brand or business represents, that should be the driving force in your blog content.

Reading other people’s blogs, commenting on them and just generally establishing a presence is also a good way to lead people back to your blog. Get out and explore the Blog-o-sphere and make yourself known.

Make sure you enable your audience to share your content. Include Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest and all manner of other “share” buttons, to allow your audience to immediately share your content with their colleagues. WordPress and just about every other blogging site has plugins available that can be automatically shown on each of your posts – make sure to equip them.

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

 

From Brand To “Being” – Humanizing A Brand

Humanizing A Brand.

It is a common problem. All brands face it, although many of the larger brands, and those that have been in existence, longer seem to struggle with it the most.

Establishing humanity within a brand image – also known as “humanizing” a brand.

Humanizing is literally defined as:

hu·man·ize  [hyoo-muh-nahyz or, often, yoo-]

tr.v. hu·man·izedhu·man·iz·inghu·man·iz·es 

1. To portray or endow with human characteristics or attributes; make human.

Humanizing your brand

Image Source: Socialfish.org

The concept here is to create within the customer, an acknowledgment or association of a Brand with relate-able, human, ground level understanding. Essentially it is a matter of making certain the customer can relate to and trust a brand.

Humanizing is considered an essential part of modern day branding success. Examples of it abound in businesses like Coca-Cola, Apple, Transition Marketing 🙂 , Nike and Google.

There are many different avenues a business can take, whether in initial branding or re-branding campaigns. The key is to position (or re-position) your brand as one that is for the people, one that is engaging and REAL, one that wants to know its customers. One that is more than just a cold-corporate automaton.

Having Fun Is Human.

One sure fire method of creating human emotion, reaction and association with a brand, is to have fun.

Seriously.

Have fun and make sure your customers have fun (Gamify anyone?)

The more a brand can portray itself as fun, carefree, and humorous even, the more relate-able it becomes. This does not mean supplying the plant floor with Super-soakers (although an argument could be made for it’s YouTube worthiness), but it may mean rethinking everything that has been done to date.

Humanizing a brand, like any branding campaign, is about more than image. It needs to be rooted deep within the core of the company.

Where Is More Profit To Be Had?

It may mean letting go of certain preconceptions. For instance, is their greater overall brand and business profit in running your Customer Service Team lean and reducing head count, or could an argument be made for hiring that extra person to create a more relaxed environment where your CSR reps can dialogue with customers and promote brand integrity?

My years working with the Customer Service team for a leading Western Canadian Brand taught me that, by creating relationships with your regular customers through more relaxed communications, a brand can soar above it’s competition. When your CSR team has the time and motivation to get to know your customers by name, and when they can take a few minutes during a phone call to talk about non-business topics, they are developing your brands humanity – they are humanizing your brand.

Focused hiring, training and leadership are required for this. It is shameful when a brand contracts out their service department to the lowest bidder, or hires employees with the wrong caliper and skill set. Doing this ensures their brand will suffer.

Have Fun Or Else!

It is important to note that “fun” cannot be enforced. Too often we see Human Resources, Managers and Leadership attempting to force smiles and relaxation through faulty training exercises, well intended (poorly executed) mixers and events, or mis-directed communications (office space hawaiian shirt day anyone?)

There are a number of reasons that these “enforcement’s” fail:

  1. The training may be (or may be seen as) another “flash in the pan” from corporate. Often these training modules are mandatory programs, which get zero buy-in from employees. They often lack realistic application to brand specific scenarios and seldom last more than a few months. The more modules you go through, the more jaded your employees will be.
  2. Mixers and Events are typically well intended. However employees do not want to attend after-work functions if there is not already a relationship with their colleagues. Similarly after work functions, where spouses etc. are not invited, or the employee is even remotely financially responsible,  is seen as an intrusion.

Humanizing is a delicate procedure. Creating a fun “human” spirit within a brand begins within the bedrock of the business. As with all aspects of a brand campaign, it must be rooted in every aspect of the business. Consistency is crucial.

Humanized Brand Success Stories.

We will wrap up with a handful of “humanized” brand examples.

1. Google:

Google continues to dominate many key markets. Their brand has become so well known that they can get away with “altering” their logo at will.

Google employs top notch minds to develop and innovate, they have the leading search engine algorithm and have generated a great deal of talk with their “super-empire” and more recently their consolidated privacy policy.

Yet at the base of this behemoth business, there is a spirit of fun. While not all of tech savvy, in-the-know types would agree with Google and all of their practices, the basic consumer is easily sold when greeted with a sense of camaraderie and of fun by many of Googles tools.

A Handful Of Google Easter Eggs:

Get your Google page to speak “Pirate”, “Swedish Chef”, “Hacker” and many more.

Try searching Google Maps for directions to “Mordor” under the “Walking Category”.

Try plugging in “Find Chuck Norris” using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” option.

More Easter Eggs Available Here:

Many of these Easter eggs are mainstream now, widely shared on social media platforms and amongst friends. It is this type of “inside joke” and the subsequent dialogue it creates, that has positioned Google, one of the largest brands in existence, as buddy-buddy with so many people.

2. Apple:

Apple has succeeded beyond all other brands before them, due to their acknowledgement of what truly matters to consumers. They have built a brand that is associated with care, quality and fun and they have gained their customers trust by standing by their products and being about more than just the bottom dollar.

A large part of this success can be summed up by one of there credo’s “We are at our best when we deliver enriching experiences”. 

Apple is (or projects a brand image of) being about people, about service and about products that go beyond the standard.

“Their Customer Service department excels thanks to careful interviewing, training, and a willingness to hire relate-able people. Mohawks, tattoos, piercings are all acceptable among Apple Store employees. Apple hires people who reflect the diversity of their customers”. – Taken From 14 Things Brands Can Learn From Apple

Apple’s success in humanizing their brand through light-hearted marketing is exemplified nicely in the Apple VS. PC Guy, ad campaign:

The campaign challenges you to decide for yourself, who you would rather hang out – who belongs by your side and in your social group? who is most relate-able?

3. Nike:

Nike has recently been seeing a lot of spotlight with their social engagement campaigns. They have been very successful in their efforts to reach out to consumers. Here are just a few examples:

The “Extra Day to #makeitcount” Campaign.

Nike launched the campaign in conjunction with the leap year. Based around a live 24 hour countdown broadcast on in-store screens and XTP screens through-out the London tubes. For 24 hours on February 29th they encouraged consumers to tweet about the extra day and how they were going to #makeitcount.

She Runs The Night -> She Runs…

Nike engaged its female audience with the she runs the night campaign, a 13km event that took place in Sydney’s Centennial Park on May 3rd. The race took place at the Royal Hall of Industries in the Entertainment Quarter. The course was fully lit underneath a halo of light.

Nike took that one step further hosting a Facebook page specifically for its female running market. The page, “Nike She Runs” is dedicated to creating a dialogue and engaging this very specific market.

4. Coca-Cola:

Coke is one of the all time best branding success stories. They hit some waves in the early 80’s but regained their stride and have since been batting them out of the park with their Social Media and engagement efforts.

Take for instance the Coca-Cola hug machine. Simply put, you hug it and it reciprocates with a free Coke.  Check out the video:

In a similar move there was also the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, which dispensed multiple bottles to several surprised college students who then shared the Coke products with their friends.

Coke has also been involved in all manner of guerrilla street advertising, with non-traditional bill boards and signage geared at grabbing the eye.

Of course there is the whole Coca-Cola “My Coke Rewards” campaign as well. Purchasing their products gives you points that can be used to redeem online coupons and perks. Imagine the number of customers at any given moment clicking through to a brand controlled webpage. The customer gets their perks, and Coke gets their attention.

Humanization and Social Engagement are the key to brand success in the new millennium. These are achieved through creative,  fun content and reaching out to the consumer base. It is not enough to advertise it though, Branding, and the Humanizing of a brand must take root in every aspect of your business model. Your employees must take an active role in it, if it is to succeed.

Ben Erickson is the Specialized Services Manager with Transition Marketing Services Contact us anytime for questions, conversation or for a free consultation.

Small Business: Why You Need To Be On Twitter

You Belong On Twitter.

Every small business does. It is a tool of engagement and brand development. It is the means to find and learn from your market targets and it is quickly becoming a linchpin to modern marketing.

Consider the following points in regards to Twitter:

1. Twitter shrinks the world. Your brand instantly becomes apparent to both, the customer down the street and across the globe. “Twitter is a place where one person can help another person anywhere in the world” – Dave Larson, @TweetSmarter

2. It is budget friendly, easy to learn and easier to use. Here are a couple of quick Twitter references you should know:

  • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less.
  • Retweet (RT): A reposting or sharing of someones else’s tweet.
  • @johndoe: The means by which you directly address another Twitter user within your tweet.
  • #Hashtag: Placing the hashtag (#) in front of any word or sentence turns it into a search reference for the Twitter search engine. It can also be used to accentuate the point behind your tweet.
  • “Via”: Source or author of the content being shared.
  • OH: Overheard. The means by which you share a rumour or story.
  • #FF: The Hashtag (search reference) for Follow Friday. The means by which you share people you follow with your followers, “paying it forward” if you will.

Bu utilizing simple tags like this, you literally have the world at your fingertips (whether they listen to you is another story).

3. It is here, it is now, it is real time. Ask a question, expect an answer. The power behind this as a market research tool is enormous. Not only do you have the tool to find your targets, you have the means to speak with them. If you doubt the power Twitter possesses to consolidate an effort – then consider the recent political uprisings that have begun to change the middle east.

4. There is no limit to what you can do with Twitter. Advertise, research, dialogue. build goodwill or address issues.

5.Twitter is a research tool – monitor competitors and other industry relevant parties to see what the latest buzz is from your consumers. This is a great way to see where your brand may be succeeding or failing, but it also works the same way for monitoring your competition.

5. You can spot trends and hop on board. You can spot fails and move out of the way. Twitter hosts communications on everything that is going in the world. You can monitor issues, big and small, relevant or not, and speak to them as you need to.

Twitter can act as a megaphone for your brand successes

6. It is flexible.The speed at which it moves, the nature of limited 140 character posts, and the speed on replies make Twitter the perfect medium to test the waters. Change message types and communications as needed based on real time feedback from sources that matter.

7. Twitter is a great way to spread goodwill. Position your brand on Twitter as an expert and proprietor of helpful industry tips and info. Be helpful and enrich others – the efforts are appreciated and can quickly build brand reputation.

8. Customer Service. Twitter efforts can play a huge role in partnering with your Customer Service and After Sales Service efforts. The speed with which you can address concerns, comments or questions is incredible. Use Twitter to address customer comments and build your brand at the same time (or use it to move them to a less “public” avenue such as email, in order to address more volatile concerns).

9. Immediate information spread. Why does this matter? If you have a sudden issue, crisis or concern – Twitter possesses the speed and wide range communication capabilities to get your message out asap.

10. Connecting. I have been thrilled time and again, with how useful Twitter is for searching out new and relevant contacts. By city, by industry, by name – no matter the parameters, I can seek out those I need to network with.

11. It builds your small business future. Your tweets are entirely public, they are being seen by not just your current customers, but potential ones as well. This positioning of your brand within the eyes of the consumer base, can translate into future sales.

12. Use Twitter as a megaphone for your successes. Don’t brag, but if you get a compliment, favorite, Re-tweet it, and/or reply to it. Doing so spreads the word that, “hey! someone thought you were pretty great!”

Going Viral: Twitter spreads information widely and quickly.

13. Build your brand. We have already addresses this briefly, but Twitter is an ideal medium for establish your brands philosophies, morals and standards within your consumer base. Use Twitter to reinforce your brand message, stay consistent and you will see positive brand growth.

14. Twitter provides a tool to humanize your brand. It is B2B and more. It is B2C (business to customer). You can dialogue directly with the people purchasing your products and services. You can avoid the cold corporate image and show your small business is human just like them.

All that being said, there are pros and cons to all things. Likewise their are correct ways to go about it. Some businesses and Social Media Specialists would purchase follows, but the best and most appropriate use of Twitter is to develop your audience through organic relationships – communicate, speak to them, ask questions and monitor results. Go to your customers and build your brand B2B and B2C.

If you do find yourself on Twitter – drop by and tweet “Hi” – @MarketingTMS

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.